Astronomers have discovered a a vast water cloud ringing a quasar about 12 billion light years away:
The cloud…contains 4,000 times more water than our entire Milky Way galaxy, or about 140 trillion times the amount of water found in all the oceans on Earth.
Since you can’t breathe in space, it would be strange if you could drown. And I guess there’s really no risk of that here — the cloud is relatively insubstantial, 300 trillion times less dense than Earth’s atmosphere. Besides, you’d freeze to death first: the temperature in the cloud is minus 63 degrees Fahrenheit.
What astronomers are seeing is light that left the quasar just 1.6 billion years after the beginning of the universe, says the study’s co-author Alberto Bolatto of the University of Maryland. “This discovery pushes the detection of water one billion years closer to the Big Bang than any previous find.”
One thought – that’s an awful lot of water in one place. What if it’s not a natural phenomenon? Maybe it’s a Bussard ramscoop filling station!