Galactic sized bathtub of water found in space

From NASA Jet Propulsion Lab, Pasadena:

Quasar Drenched in Water Vapor

Quasar Drenched in Water Vapor -This artist's concept illustrates a quasar, or feeding black hole, similar to APM 08279+5255, where astronomers discovered huge amounts of water vapor. Gas and dust likely form a torus around the central black hole, with clouds of charged gas above and below. X-rays emerge from the very central region, while thermal infrared radiation is emitted by dust throughout most of the torus. While this figure shows the quasar's torus approximately edge-on, the torus around APM 08279+5255 is likely positioned face-on from our point of view. Image credit: NASA/ESA

Astronomers Find Largest, Most Distant Reservoir of Water

Two teams of astronomers have discovered the largest and farthest reservoir of water ever detected in the universe. The water, equivalent to 140 trillion times all the water in the world’s ocean, surrounds a huge, feeding black hole, called a quasar, more than 12 billion light-years away.

“The environment around this quasar is very unique in that it’s producing this huge mass of water,” said Matt Bradford, a scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. “It’s another demonstration that water is pervasive throughout the universe, even at the very earliest times.” Bradford leads one of the teams that made the discovery. His team’s research is partially funded by NASA and appears in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

A quasar is powered by an enormous black hole that steadily consumes a surrounding disk of gas and dust. As it eats, the quasar spews out huge amounts of energy. Both groups of astronomers studied a particular quasar called APM 08279+5255, which harbors a black hole 20 billion times more massive than the sun and produces as much energy as a thousand trillion suns.

Astronomers expected water vapor to be present even in the early, distant universe, but had not detected it this far away before. There’s water vapor in the Milky Way, although the total amount is 4,000 times less than in the quasar, because most of the Milky Way’s water is frozen in ice.

Water vapor is an important trace gas that reveals the nature of the quasar. In this particular quasar, the water vapor is distributed around the black hole in a gaseous region spanning hundreds of light-years in size (a light-year is about six trillion miles). Its presence indicates that the quasar is bathing the gas in X-rays and infrared radiation, and that the gas is unusually warm and dense by astronomical standards. Although the gas is at a chilly minus 63 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 53 degrees Celsius) and is 300 trillion times less dense than Earth’s atmosphere, it’s still five times hotter and 10 to 100 times denser than what’s typical in galaxies like the Milky Way.

Measurements of the water vapor and of other molecules, such as carbon monoxide, suggest there is enough gas to feed the black hole until it grows to about six times its size. Whether this will happen is not clear, the astronomers say, since some of the gas may end up condensing into stars or might be ejected from the quasar.

Bradford’s team made their observations starting in 2008, using an instrument called “Z-Spec” at the California Institute of Technology’s Submillimeter Observatory, a 33-foot (10-meter) telescope near the summit of Mauna Kea in Hawaii. Follow-up observations were made with the Combined Array for Research in Millimeter-Wave Astronomy (CARMA), an array of radio dishes in the Inyo Mountains of Southern California.

The second group, led by Dariusz Lis, senior research associate in physics at Caltech and deputy director of the Caltech Submillimeter Observatory, used the Plateau de Bure Interferometer in the French Alps to find water. In 2010, Lis’s team serendipitously detected water in APM 8279+5255, observing one spectral signature. Bradford’s team was able to get more information about the water, including its enormous mass, because they detected several spectral signatures of the water.

Other authors on the Bradford paper, “The water vapor spectrum of APM 08279+5255,” include Hien Nguyen, Jamie Bock, Jonas Zmuidzinas and Bret Naylor of JPL; Alberto Bolatto of the University of Maryland, College Park; Phillip Maloney, Jason Glenn and Julia Kamenetzky of the University of Colorado, Boulder; James Aguirre, Roxana Lupu and Kimberly Scott of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; Hideo Matsuhara of the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science in Japan; and Eric Murphy of the Carnegie Institute of Science, Pasadena.

Funding for Z-Spec was provided by the National Science Foundation, NASA, the Research Corporation and the partner institutions.

Caltech manages JPL for NASA. More information about JPL is online at http://www.jpl.nasa.gov .

65 thoughts on “Galactic sized bathtub of water found in space

  1. Q: “What’s a guy gotta do, to get a drink around here?”
    A: “Er…ahhh….. Skim the event horizon of a black hole!”

    As W. C. Fields was wont to quip:
    “I stumbled across a case of Brandy once…And I’ve been stumbling ever since!”

    They stumbled into a whopper here!

  2. How much water is that in SI units? You know… Olympic-sized… oh, never mind. ;o)
    .
    .
    .
    Pretty cool. The question in my mind is, how much water is there in the universe? Is it really all that rare?

  3. Watch for a whole new Sci Fi Series exploring a liquid, torus-shaped planet the size of a galaxy. To bad about the low density — perhaps gravity gives it a ring-shaped core that is much denser and warmer, even liquid.

  4. Rubbish, typical NASA trying to push the black hole theory of Quasars. It isnt 12 billon lightyears away they couldnt analyse it that far. Its MASS is YOUNGER therefore the ifrared is REDSHIFTED as younger material emits longer wavelengths. Therfore the distance is NOT at the so called redshift distance. Quasars are ejected from galaxies with quantized redshift proven by H Arp and G Burbige. The universe doesnt allow blackholes only super compact objects. Quasars are protogalaxies this has been observed.

  5. The artist must be an adherent of plasma physics. That is a typical nice z-pinch arrangement he slipped in.

    which harbors a black hole 20 billion times more massive than the sun and produces as much energy as a thousand trillion suns.

    Seems someone likes large numbers. Maybe it looks impressive on a grant request.

  6. “12 billion light-years away”
    I wonder, is it even still there, if we are seeing it as it was 12 billion years ago? Just a thought.

  7. I want to see a debate between three top scientists from the standard theory and three from the Plasma Universe theory. Both teams have a month to prep and the debate will be moderated by someone who’s skeptical of everything.

    Electrozark(tm) seat cushions will keep the debate civil and the ad-homs to a bare minimum.

    I’ll bring the popcorn. ;)

  8. Wow, that picture is a-w-e-s-o-m-e. Too bad they didn’t note the volume in Californias. ;)

  9. “Watch for a whole new Sci Fi Series exploring a liquid, torus-shaped planet the size of a galaxy. To bad about the low density — perhaps gravity gives it a ring-shaped core that is much denser and warmer, even liquid.”

    Larry Niven wrote two novels set in a similar environment: a gas torus around a neutron star. The were mostly sociological fiction, dealing with the descendents of an exploration mission that got stuck, but his descriptions of plausible flora and fauna are interesting. The Integral Trees and the sequel The Smoke Ring have been recently released in a single trade paper volume. (http://www.amazon.com/Integral-Trees-Smoke-Ring/dp/0345460367)

  10. “Measurements of the water vapor and of other molecules, such as carbon monoxide, suggest there is enough gas to feed the black hole until it grows to about six times its size. Whether this will happen is not clear, the astronomers say, since some of the gas may end up condensing into stars or might be ejected from the quasar.”
    =====
    Why is this written in real time, when we are seeing the light emitted 12 billion years ago ?
    Anything that was going to happen, already has.
    We are just too far away to see the results.

  11. Cool. So, how much of the world’s dwindling financial resources should we allocate to this study?

  12. ClimateForAll says:
    July 22, 2011 at 7:20 pm
    I was going to warn about the electric universe acolytes trolling this post, but it looks like I am too late.
    ======
    Nope, you are the first.
    Warning, how ?

  13. Of course there is water in space. Of course there is lots of it. There is a whole universe out there.

    I wish we knew more about the water, and the creatures in our oceans here. I was brought up on the allure of space, and it has left me empty and now it bores me.

    The ocean is more interesting every day.

  14. @u.k.(us)

    I can’t warn of EU trolls commenting here, because it had already begun?

    Maybe when e-pulp like, ‘The Thoth – A Catastrophic Newsletter’ quits publishing works of religious fiction and passing it of as science, I might listen.

    Until then, I doubt I’ll ever take the E.U. religion seriously.

    If you are not familiar with that newsletter, maybe you should go catch up on how the leaders of the Electric Universe Theory view themselves and what they believe in.

    If you are already familiar with their works, then your comment is nothing more than bait.

    Either way, my point was to warn others before, not after.

    But since you asked, I told.

    -End of Transmission-

  15. The graphic makes me wonder how a black hole has some directionality.
    Wouldn’t all radiation expelled be omni-directional rather than bi-directional as indicated?

  16. The picture reminds me of this fact:
    The One who builds His upper chambers in the heavens
    And has founded His vaulted dome over the earth,
    He who calls for the waters of the sea
    And pours them out on the face of the earth,
    The LORD is His name.
    Thank you for sharing the beautiful picture, it inspires to me to believe!

  17. I imagine it like a mirage on the horizon,
    by the time you get to it, it won’t be there anymore.

  18. “The water, equivalent to 140 trillion times all the water in the world’s ocean, surrounds a huge, feeding black hole, called a quasar, more than 12 billion light-years away.”

    So?

    If it was whiskey… now, that would be something!

  19. 12 billion light years away, so this happened 7.5 billion years before the earth was born

  20. Uh, “There’s water vapor in the Milky Way, although the total amount is 4,000 times less than in the quasar, because most of the Milky Way’s water is frozen in ice.” So frozen water occupies 1/4,000 the space of non-frozen water? And this water is in a space that is -53F or -63C,but is greater than the Milky Way because it is not frozen?

    Anyone care to translate this PR from Gibberish?

  21. The birds on my birdfeeder are uninterested.. On the other hand the ducks in my pond say “140 trillion times the water on earth. Beam us up Scotty!!”

  22. ClimateForAll.
    A more representative site for EU would be http://www.thunderbolts.info/home.htm.
    The picture of the day is always interesting. I also enjoy browsing the archived pictures of the day.
    In fact the EU theory has revived my interest in astronomy/cosmology as I find it presents a lively theory of the universe that does also seem to be quite reasonable.

  23. Back on earth where it realy matters at canberra australia we are having the largest rally ever in our history on the 16th of August at our time 12 pm no carbon tax and to kick our fabian gov,t who are out to destroy australia can you believe it we cannot, keep a eye on what is happing to australia because your next in line and it is all down hill.

  24. 5 × 10 ^15 the luminosity of the sun? That’s a little problematic, don’t you think?

    Not only that, it is “positionally coincident with Faint Source Catalogue source F08279+5255.”
    Since this does not fit theory they have disappeared the other objects nearby, claiming that “gravitational lensing” has made the quasar in question here appear to be 2 or 3 point sources.

    I can’t find much on F 08279+5255, but it certainly is not a z=3.91 object. Here is a clue:

    IRAS F08279+5255 | (1999A&A…345..369C) have detected CO 4->3 emission at
    IRAS F08279+5255 | z=3.911, the redshift of the source. There is a weak
    IRAS F08279+5255 | central radio source at optical position with two
    IRAS F08279+5255 | stronger diagonally opposing sources near
    IRAS F08279+5255 | 08h31m50s/52d43’30” and 08h31m 25s/52d46’30”.

    Quasars are often found in pairs along the axis of active galaxies!

  25. Having been skeptical of the consensus science of the standard model and particle physics for decades I am pleased to see others here have doubts.
    Black holes and event horizons are some what imaginary and unproven, the red shift tells us nothing whether the universe is expanding in ever increasing velocity or the distance and age of an object. What if the light is slowed in space by distance, big red shift.
    Recently the mass of matter was not enough to make the universe work, so the gurus invented dark matter. This proved problematic so dark energy was invented. These are like imaginary friends some what like the imaginary particles that are needed in particle physics. They all took a wrong turn a long time ago. A few months from now I may have some bad news for all those adherents to consensus with proof of a force that pervades space that they are unaware of.

  26. Terry Jackson says:
    July 22, 2011 at 10:46 pm

    Uh, “There’s water vapor in the Milky Way, although the total amount is 4,000 times less than in the quasar, because most of the Milky Way’s water is frozen in ice.” So frozen water occupies 1/4,000 the space of non-frozen water? And this water is in a space that is -53F or -63C,but is greater than the Milky Way because it is not frozen?

    Anyone care to translate this PR from Gibberish?

    ———————————————————————————————————————————–

    The total volume of gaseous water is greater in the other galaxy than in our own because there is a larger distance (total volume) covered that the compound is found is larger in that galaxy than the volume of our own atmosphere etc, and the conditions of the rest of the Milky away. The temperatures are strange as compared to the Milky Way as found in this other galaxy where the low temperatures found at ~ -50C are still around 10 to 100 times denser than what you’d expect to find in a ‘typical’ galaxy like the Milky Way. Water is being heated by the x-rays and other wavelengths which excite particles to be ‘gaseous’ at a higher rate and collide so that the kinetic energy is absorbed in a compressed space due to the high pressure (AFAIK). I’m not a physicist, I’m a biologist. Someone should be better apt to explain the details than I.

  27. to infer the age of the universe by the distance of the furthest known matter is quite arbitrary. If something is known to be 14 billion light years away, it is assumed that the universe is 14 billion years old. It takes that object’s light that long to reach the earth – as though the earth were the centre of the universe, but not that it is therefore that old. It could well be 200 billion years old – only its distance has nothing to do with its age, and neither does the rate of expansion of near galaxies from the earth.

    Both notions are like saying that the sun is 9 minutes old, since that is how long it takes for its light to reach the earth, or that a car is 2 minutes old since its acceleration conforms to its constant of proportionality- or else if the moon were coming toward earth on its ellipse, it is losing age and getting younger

  28. The UK rowers are setting out on Thursday to row to the North Magnetic Pole – to bring atttention to Global Warming. Perhaps this could be their next project – row across a galaxy.

  29. Astronomers Find Largest, Most Distant Reservoir of Water

    Two teams of astronomers have discovered the largest and farthest reservoir of water ever detected in the universe. The water, equivalent to 140 trillion times all the water in the world’s ocean, surrounds a huge, feeding black hole, called a quasar, more than 12 billion light-years away.

    Astronomers expected water vapor to be present even in the early, distant universe, but had not detected it this far away before. There’s water vapor in the Milky Way, although the total amount is 4,000 times less than in the quasar, because most of the Milky Way’s water is frozen in ice.

    In this particular quasar, the water vapor is distributed around the black hole in a gaseous region spanning hundreds of light-years in size (a light-year is about six trillion miles).

    Measurements of the water vapor and of other molecules, such as carbon monoxide, suggest there is enough gas to feed the black hole until it grows to about six times its size. Whether this will happen is not clear, the astronomers say, since some of the gas may end up condensing into stars or might be ejected from the quasar.

    Someone will call me a nitpicker but this reporting is just terrible! At 12 billion light years away (according to our current understanding of vast distance and time) this thing was at least eight billion years old before the Earth was even formed.

    There is a whole lot of present-tense in that article, so much so that the reporter must actually believe that he is looking at a photograph at a distance of 12 billion LY in real-time. Does this bother anyone else?

    If current thinking on space and time is correct, this is a photo of approximately 12 billion years ago, there is no evidence that the water is there today and certainly this quasar is nowhere near the same location if it still exists at all.

    More accurate title …

    Astronomers Find Largest Reservoir of Water existed at least 12 billion years ago

    It would take way too much time to correct the body of the article.

    u.k.(us) [July 22, 2011 at 7:02 pm] says:

    Why is this written in real time, when we are seeing the light emitted 12 billion years ago ?
    Anything that was going to happen, already has.
    We are just too far away to see the results.

    I’m glad someone else noticed. Thank you!

  30. The article talks about some of the gas condensing into stars, but it refers almost exclusively to water vapor. I’ve been taught that H2 condenses into a star, fusion follows, and then a helium star, etc.

    How would a water vapor star be powered?

    Thanks.

    Tim

  31. Bet the water is full of bacteria. They seem to be the basic purpose of the universe, and they certainly aren’t slowed down by little considerations like vacuum, low or high temps, radioactivity, etc.

  32. I hope someday in my lifetime, I will get to see more than just artist renderings or extremely fuzzy pictures with arrows pointing to what im supposed to be seeing.

  33. John Trigge says:
    July 22, 2011 at 8:49 pm

    The graphic makes me wonder how a black hole has some directionality.
    Wouldn’t all radiation expelled be omni-directional rather than bi-directional as indicated?

    I think it has to do with the extremely fast spin – the radiation is ejected from the poles only, although I have no idea why, to be honest.

  34. Lots of massive numbers… how much is imagination and speculation and how much is real, solid measurements?

    Astronomy and Cosmology is a field littered with at least as much politics -due to the theist vs atheist debate (many nut bags on both sides of that debate)- as climate science. So beware!

  35. I find it interesting that most, if not all, articles written about distant objects treat the subject matter as though what we are observing is contemporaneous with our own position in spacetime. These observations always present the “distance” in light-years and the information as though it were happening right now. There is some validity in asking what is the value of studying objects and events that disappeared long before the formation of our own solar system.

  36. Chandra X-ray Observatory Image for APM 08279+5255:

    http://chandra.harvard.edu/photo/2003/apm08279/

    Clearly a PAIR of X-ray sources, coincident with IRAS F08279+5255.

    However here is the interpretation: “The double image of APM 08279 is caused by the bending of its light by an intervening galaxy, an effect called gravitational lensing. This effect also magnifies the light of the quasar 100 fold allowing for a detailed study of its properties even though it is 12 billion light [years away].”

  37. No rubber duckie. There’s actually a corpse in that bathtub, because the Big Bang Theory relies on quasars to say the Universe is expanding. But the quasars are appearing in pairs along the axis of active galaxies. And that is exactly what you see here with APM 08279+5255.

    Chandra X-ray Observatory Image for APM 08279+5255:

    http://chandra.harvard.edu/photo/2003/apm08279/

    .

  38. Sorry about the major copy and paste, but this grammar debate reminds me of Douglas Adams´Restaurant at the end of the Universe.

    One of the major problems encountered in time travel is not that of becoming your own father or mother. There is no problem in becoming your own father or mother that a broad-minded and well-adjusted family can’t cope with. There is no problem with changing the course of history—the course of history does not change because it all fits together like a jigsaw. All the important changes have happened before the things they were supposed to change and it all sorts itself out in the end.

    The major problem is simply one of grammar, and the main work to consult in this matter is Dr. Dan Streetmentioner’s Time Traveler’s Handbook of 1001 Tense Formations. It will tell you, for instance, how to describe something that was about to happen to you in the past before you avoided it by time-jumping forward two days in order to avoid it. The event will be descibed differently according to whether you are talking about it from the standpoint of your own natural time, from a time in the further future, or a time in the further past and is futher complicated by the possibility of conducting conversations while you are actually traveling from one time to another with the intention of becoming your own mother or father.

    Most readers get as far as the Future Semiconditionally Modified Subinverted Plagal Past Subjunctive Intentional before giving up; and in fact in later aditions of the book all pages beyond this point have been left blank to save on printing costs.

    The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy skips lightly over this tangle of academic abstraction, pausing only to note that the term “Future Perfect” has been abandoned since it was discovered not to be.

  39. wayne Job says:
    July 23, 2011 at 1:15 am
    “Having been skeptical of the consensus science of the standard model and particle physics for decades I am pleased to see others here have doubts.
    Black holes and event horizons are some what imaginary and unproven, the red shift tells us nothing whether the universe is expanding in ever increasing velocity or the distance and age of an object. What if the light is slowed in space by distance, big red shift.”

    C is a constant, time is a variable, according to relativity. There are theories that at higher energy levels such as existed in the early universe that:
    1 light traveled faster
    2 space-time unzips and becomes separate entities
    3 the fine strucure constant is different in other parts of hte universe
    4 space/time itself may be quantized ie discontinuous
    and so on.
    So far relativity and quantum physics have stood the test of all observations but so did Newtonian physics until better methods were devised to prove that relativity is a more accurate depiction of the laws of physics. Given the necessity of inventing cosmological inflation, dark matter and dark energy, as well as the inability to marry quantum physics to relativity, one might consider that the present theories of physics are “incomplete” if not wrong. Newtonian laws were good estimations, but wrong, and our present theories are better, but that does not exclude the possibility that they are also wrong.

  40. So, this is measured as occurring 12 billion light years away. Whats happening today? How does our galaxy/solar system play into this?

    Can we distinguish between the present and the past?

    Can someone on this site tie this together?

  41. The concept of 12 billion light years, seems to be a challenge for some to grasp.
    Much like the concept of light reaching Earth from the Sun.
    Light from our Sun takes 8 minutes to travel to Earth.
    If our Sun refused to shine, it would take that long for that phenomena to be observed here on Earth.
    Also in that amount of time, our solar system would have traveled 68k miles in its orbit around the Milky Way.
    In those same 8 minutes. the Earth would have traveled 9k miles around its orbit of the Sun.
    The Milky Way is said to move around the gravitational center of a larger group of galaxies, known as the Local Group. The Milky Way would have moved 12k miles in those same 8 minutes.
    Before one can grasp the concept of Light Years, I think it is important to understand what our perspective is, of the viewing of a phenomena, before we can understand the time of the phenomena.

    We have come to understand that time is relative.

    To give an example, If I was somehow able to step off Earth the moment the Sun refused to shine, and come to a complete stop around the orbit of the Sun, the Milky Way and the LG, in the 8 minutes for the event to reach me, the Earth would have traveled nearly 90k miles.

    While I would be covered in complete darkness from the absence of light from the Sun, the light reflecting off the Earth(assuming the Earth and I are equal distance from the Sun), would continue for another half a sec; essentially making the Earth appear to glow without any source of light.

    The object which we view over a period of time is no longer where it was, whenever it took place.
    If the observer was in an orbit of some kind, then the viewer is no longer where they were, whenever the event took place.
    If the observer had never moved at the time that such an event took place, the place in time where the observer might have been would have experienced the event at that time in space, while the space he would have witnessed the event from, wouldn’t haven’t taken place yet.

    In addition, the source of the event, would no longer be at the location that the event took place, but be in a completely different place in space altogether.

    Lets come back to this image we are receiving from 12 billion light years. The galaxy we are viewing is no longer where it was. The Earth is not where it was 12 billion l.y.’s ago, regardless if the Earth existed at all. The light travelling from that galaxy would have reached this time and this place, according to the laws of science, even if we choose to deny such science.

    My point is this: The galaxy in question may not even exist. It may have been ate by a quasar or spun itself into another galaxy for all we know. Who knows, maybe another observer witnessed the destruction of the same galaxy at the same precise moment we discovered the galaxy.

    Though we are just now discovering that this galaxy exists, the light travelling from that source has been moving out towards the furthermost regions of the known Universe, shedding it’s secrets, for those that wish to learn from it.

    We should be talking about the discovery of another source of water and the implications it brings.

    We now have further evidence that water, life giving water, is not just present here on Earth, or on comets(yeah, that’s ice coming off comets, not an electrical discharge.), or on asteroids, or on the moon, but from distant galaxies as well.

    The building block of life itself seems to be more prevalent than we had ever imagined.

    That’s the real story.

  42. Water in space? Pretty soon they’ll be telling me there’s amino acids in meteorites.

    ;^)

  43. Why is water vapor, H2O, called warm at (-63deg)? The scientists call this (-63) ‘warm’ because of a comparison to the temperatures of the surrounding area. This is why they are measuring with infrared and super infrared, the data is all about temperature differences and relative coldness.

    An ESA article about ‘cold clouds and water in space’ can be found here: http://www.astrobio.net/pressrelease/142/cold-clouds-and-water-in-space

    The Plateau de Bure Interferometer, (http://iram.fr/IRAMFR/index.htm) is a ‘powerful but complex’ technique. With a resolution of 0.5 arcsecs, and being able to see an ‘apple at 60 kilometers away’ resolution quality, it is not the same level of difficulty as trying to look at a Quasar, seen near the edge of what scientists say is the end of visible space over 12 billion light years away. Even with this superb level of accuracy, and even if they run the data from an ‘unobscured space telescope’ through the Interferometer computers, the distance is a problem.

    For a comparison, the Hubble Space Telescope cannot clearly see the newly found, and smallest moon of Pluto called P4 at a mere distance of a little more than 3 billion miles away.
    P4 can almost be seen here:

    http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/hubble/science/pluto-moon.html

    A picture showing APM08279+5255 in relative space can be found here.
    http://www.perseus.gr/Astro-DSO-QSO-APM08279+5255.htm (good picture)

    Any light passing through any water vapor clouds in space would show the telltale signature of water in its spectral signature and all this light from APM 08279+5255 is ‘gravity lensed’. This is already known and it is a problem.
    NASA already knows this.
    http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap980818.html (Partly a mirage?)

    “Additional, as yet unseen, lensing galaxies may also be present.” Found here on page 2/18:

    http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/astro-ph/pdf/9806/9806171v1.pdf

    Remember, they are not measuring an ‘area’, they are measuring a ‘volume’ in deep space by looking at a spectrograph of a sample of light. By ‘deep space’ I mean being at the extreme physical limits of any possible measurement by any device. Light spectra is the only data, and everything which is measurable is derived from this sample of recorded light. No one is going out there to get a glass of space so that we can test it in the lab and see how much water is in it.
    The question then is how much water is there in the measured spectral ‘sample’ and how big is the measured volumetric area where this ‘spectrally measured water’ is found? This is not explained.

    Throw a glass of water into the air and take a picture of it. Your picture is essentially ‘two-dimensional’. You may choose to include a drop of water to be measured from the photograph or you may choose not to include a drop of water to be measured. What you choose to see and measure in the photograph is not random and what you would choose to include in the picture to be measured effects the final data.
    Choosing a drop of water to be measured in the picture and blowing it up in size to fit the ‘guesstimated volume’ of the quasar may not be statistically honest or representative of what is really going on. You can play with the numbers and get a result, but it may not be the truth.

    Space is very very big. For comparison of size and distance, when our Sun is made a single ‘speck of dust’, and when it is compared to the next nearest star ‘Alpha Centauri’, also another ‘speck of dust'; it is like a two specks of dust in an otherwise empty vacuum 4.3 miles apart. Spread out the mass of the sun, a speck of dust, within this ‘volume with a radius of 4.3 miles’ and it essentially disappears into the void.
    It is all about the details.

    What do they mean when they talk of all this water, at APM 08279+5255?
    I do not know.
    Neither do you.
    Neither do they.

  44. “There’s water vapor in the Milky Way, although the total amount is 4,000 times less than in the quasar, because most of the Milky Way’s water is frozen in ice.” So does this mean the H2O in the quasar is liquid, even though the temperature is -63F?

  45. H.R. says:
    July 22, 2011 at 5:31 pm
    The question in my mind is, how much water is there in the universe? Is it really all that rare?

    It’s getting rarer all the time with all of that Anthropogenic Galactic Warming (AGW) going on.

  46. Arg. The quality of quibbles with this report has made me seriously downgrade my estimate of the “average” education and intelligence of WUWT readers.
    Just to take the two main “questions”:
    1) The time of occurrence is “real” enough, since all info and effects of the events are as current as they get. Until time-travel and/or instant wormhole travel are developed.
    2) Water is vapour at various temperatures, depending on pressure. This water is at very low pressure over large volumes. The ice mentioned was congealed in local higher pressure environments.

    Oh, and about the H2O condensing into stars? The hydrogen and oxygen dissociate long before stellar densities are reached. Stars contain no compounds, just elemental matter. That said, such stars would be very dense because of the high oxygen component.

  47. The good news: In 12 billion years we will know what is out there today. The bad news: In 12 billion years we will know what is out there today. So when you jump into your “wormhole” to travel out there, you will likely find that there is nothing there – making all of your conjecture absolutely meaningless.

    There is science and then there is philosophy. One without the other is either: just a bunch of observations that have no meaning or just a bunch of imaginings without any empirical basis. The intelligence and education of those who voice philosophical questions is doubtless superior to those who simply regurgitate theory or data without an understanding or curiosity of what it means.

  48. Wot’s that froot loop Goracle got to say about this?
    And last time I checked, water simply wasn’t compressable either, so will this be the 2nd black hole to fill to overflowing while it disappeared simultaneously?; the goracle; being full of it, holding that singular honour of being being the first to do so of course.
    Physics and entropy won’t be denied I hope you realise.

  49. It is being written in real time because it is happening in real time. If the information got here, and thus existed here, in all four currently measurable dimensions, then that would mean that the future is predetermined, but due to the presence of level-one parallel universes, which cannot exactly replicate one another, the future cannot be predetermined, as there has to be an opertunity for a universal split into seprate, near replica parallel universes in which every possible outcome of the splitting point is played out, and the future is changed for each universe. If this were not true, then the world as we know it would be drastically changed by time travel into the past by those of our future.

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