December 21, 2008 | David F. Coppedge

Water, Water Everywhere

A press release from the Max Planck Institute says that water has been detected at a distant quasar 11.1 billion light-years away – the farthest detection of water yet.  “The water vapour is thought to exist in clouds of dust and gas that feed the supermassive black hole at the centre of the distant quasar,” the press release said.  Because of gravitational lensing by a foreground mass, the team was able to make “this remarkable discovery.”  A co-author of the paper explained what this means: “This suggests that the water molecule may have been much more abundant in the early Universe than first thought, and can be used for further research into supermassive black holes and galaxy evolution at high redshift.”

This gives new meaning to the preamble in Psalm 148:1-5, “Praise the LORD from the heavens; Praise Him in the heights!  … Praise Him, sun and moon; Praise Him, all you stars of light!  Praise Him, you heavens of heavens, and you waters above the heavens!  Let them praise the name of the LORD, for He commanded and they were created.”

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Categories: Astronomy, Cosmology, Physics

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