Astronomers discover black hole with 140 trillion times more water than Earth

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.”

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.

 

And, the instruments they used:

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.

 

Source: NASA – Astronomers Find Largest, Most Distant Reservoir of Water

 

 

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20% of America’s Olympic athletes come from San Diego

This has become the world’s five-ring capital, a place where the Olympic flame is more like a raging beach bonfire, a place that increasingly produces more Olympic athletes in more sports on a more regular basis per capita than anywhere else maybe on the planet. The 2012 Summer Games begin Friday in London, and San Diego — a city of 1.3 million, a county of 3.1 million — can claim 80 athletes who either grew up here or currently live and train here.

And that doesn’t include another two dozen rowers who have wintered on Lower Otay Reservoir for the past several years, which would push the number north of 100 — or roughly one in five members of the U.S. Olympic team. San Diego County has roughly one-hundredth of the U.S. population.

Jarred Rome, a discus thrower who moved here in 2003 and like Schmidt is headed to his second Olympics, put it like this: “When you’re around greatness, you become great.”

There are race walkers and kayakers, a fencer, an equestrian dressage rider, a track cyclist who cut her teeth on the oval in Balboa Park. The U.S. women’s field hockey team relocated here in 2008.

 

Keep reading: U-T San Diego – San Diego: America’s Olympic capital

 

 

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