Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Water, Water Everywhere . . .


This has got to be the coolest new space environment of the year.  I wonder how long it'll take for it to appear in an Analog story.

Basically, what you've got here is 140 trillion times as much water as is contained in all of Earth's oceans  in a torus around a quasar.  Here's what NASA has to say about it:

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.

You can read about it in (of all places) the Huffington Post here

Or you can read the original press release here.

Above:  Picture Credit NASA/ESA


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