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The distant galaxy's water was signaled by a maser, the radio equivalent of the laser. It was then Doppler shifted an passed through a gravitational lens to yield the following signature detected on Earth.  (Source: Milde Science Communication, STScI, CFHT, J.-C. Cuillandre, Coelum)
New discovery supports theories that water is abundant in the universe

In order for mankind to travel to, and perhaps one day live in the stars, a critical necessity is water.  Current research indicates that Mars and the moon both have water (though some recent research cast doubt on the latter).  Furthermore, water has been discovered on extrasolar planets.

However, until now the farthest water had been spotted was in a galaxy 7 billion light-years from Earth.  Now, that range has been extended significantly with the discovery of water on a distant galaxy over 11 billion light-years from Earth.

The discovery was made by joint work by the 100-meter-diameter radio telescope in Effelsberg, Germany and the National Science Foundation's Very Large Array in New Mexico.  Using these top-notch radio source detectors, scientists were able to detect water in the distant galaxy J0414+0534.

The soggy galaxy has a quasar at its center.   Quasars are massive black holes which emit intense radiation.  Surrounding the galactic core are masers, the radio equivalent of lasers, which work in concert with the quasar by amplify its radio waves.  They amplify it at the same frequency as water's characteristic radio signature, indicating that they or materials they pass through hold water.

Still, even with the ultra-intense masers help, the signal still would not have reached Earth if it were not for another intriguing space phenomenon.

Another galaxy sits 8 billion light-years away from Earth in a direct line of site with the soggy galaxy.  It amplifies its more distant neighbor's radio signals by acting as a gravity lens.  Impellizzeri, an astronomer with the Max-Planck Institute for Radioastronomy (MPIfR) in Bonn, Germany describes, "We were only able to discover this distant water with the help of the gravitational lens.  This cosmic telescope reduced the amount of time needed to detect the water by a factor of about 1,000."

The Effelsberg telescope was the first to detect the signal.  The VLA, a more powerful telescope was brought on board to confirm the discovery.  The gravitational lens displayed four distinct images of the galaxy.  The two brightest images contained the signature of water masers.  The other two images were not clear enough to verify if they had water or not. 

Water signals, like other radio signals, undergo a Doppler shift due to the universe's expansion.  For the masers in this case, the signal was shifted from 22.2 GHz to a 6.1 GHz frequency.

It appears that the black hole quasar at the galaxy's center is either creating or spitting out water.  Typically water masers, a good method of distant water detection, emit water-specific signals when in-line with the disc of material orbiting the black hole, so-called "edge-on" alignment.  However, the newly detected masers are face-on; indicating that it is the material coming out of the black hole, rather than the material surrounding it which contains water.

John McKean, also of MPIfR explains, "This may mean that the water molecules in the masers we're seeing are not in the disk, but in the superfast jets of material being ejected by the gravitational power of the black hole."

Many other researchers helped on the project including Alan Roy, Christian Henkel, and Andreas Brunthaler, also of the Max-Planck Institute; Paola Castangia of the Max-Planck Institute and the INAF Astronomical Observatory of Cagliari in Italy; and Olaf Wucknitz of the Argelander Institute for Astronomy in Bonn, Germany.

The research can be found here in the journal Nature.

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Uranus Springs?
By Mitch101 on 12/22/2008 9:51:45 AM , Rating: 5
Some day we might be able to drink Uranus Springs water?

RE: Uranus Springs?
By elessar1 on 12/22/2008 10:02:08 AM , Rating: 2
"This may mean that the water molecules in the masers we're seeing are not in the disk, but in the superfast jets of material being ejected by the gravitational power of the black hole ."

I'v seen evidence of this phenomena before, in the "Tiana Lynn" Galaxy...

(dont make me google that 4 u)


RE: Uranus Springs?
By sundwnr on 12/22/2008 10:25:38 AM , Rating: 2
Isn't that in the constellation of Cytherea?

RE: Uranus Springs?
By Ratinator on 12/22/2008 11:04:45 AM , Rating: 2
Don't forget there is an asteroid belt there full of Angela Stone(s)

RE: Uranus Springs?
By Xenoterranos on 12/22/2008 10:26:32 AM , Rating: 3
Mmmm, I hear methane tastes better when bottled at the source.

RE: Uranus Springs?
By amanojaku on 12/22/2008 11:13:01 AM , Rating: 5
Some day we might be able to drink Uranus Springs water?
No matter what planet, moon, or celestial body it comes from... It's still TAP water! Don't believe the lies!!!

By MrPoletski on 12/22/2008 9:46:32 AM , Rating: 2
Call me back when they discover beer in a distant galaxy, then I'll sign up, hic :)

RE: Hmm
By Aberforth on 12/22/2008 11:04:59 AM , Rating: 2
wow...that's depressing, it's a very sad thing you know...incapable though you are of moving your buttocks to the bar near your house and you are talking about distant galaxy? I think other planets should only be open for a select few people who are actually useful.

RE: Hmm
By amanojaku on 12/22/2008 11:59:37 AM , Rating: 4
I hope that's sarcasm, because beer in space would be the single most important discovery EVER.

Many (if not most) CEOs and politicians are alcoholics and/or substance abusers. Almost all are perverts, too, but that's a completely different discussion... The CEOs would be motivated to get to space to be the first to market (and drink) space brew, while the politicians would be motivated to get territorial rights and tax zones. Venture capitalists would pour money in by the billions to fund space breweries, space bars, and space kegs. Space flasks and space cans will become popular personal items. NASA would become a publicly traded organization on the recently founded Universal Stock Exchange, and India will finally have a rocket that doesn't explode upon impact (soot is bad for the beer.)

Where space beer goes space football follows, and space hotdogs, pretzels and face paint, too. The lack of oxygen in space creates the need for a new type of grill: the space grill. Wives won't be necessary in space since the space mess floats into the nearest black hole (creating more space beer!!!) and space beers will just float around you in a homo-synchronous orbit. The lack of space wives gives rise to space hookers, which is perfectly legal since there aren't any space wives to complain about it. Space prophylactics will by sold by the galactic ton, and space porn will soon surface. Space Girls Gone Wild will be the longest running TV show. In a strange twist of fate MySpace won't exist anymore.

Politicians, lawyers, doctors, nurses, tax collectors, janitors, mimes... I see all sorts of people going into space, all because of alcoholics! :-)

RE: Hmm
By JonnyDough on 12/23/2008 8:40:31 PM , Rating: 2
This may be decidedly the most entertaining post I've read online. At least, in awhile.

RE: Hmm
By eetnoyer on 12/22/2008 2:10:19 PM , Rating: 5
Hey, maybe then we could host that intergalactic kegger!

RE: Hmm
By JonnyDough on 12/23/2008 8:49:08 PM , Rating: 2
Now the only issue is figuring out how to do funnel chugs while doing a handstand. I suppose we can use the pressure on tap instead of a funnel and tube. But still, there's something to be said about drinking old school style, you know...while under the influence of a gravitational force.

On the upside, you won't have to go anywhere to get that girl you have no shot with a drink. You can just wave your hand (or use your walkie-talkie, as there's no sound transferal in space) and your friend can float one over to you.

By mmcdonalataocdotgov on 12/22/2008 12:00:28 PM , Rating: 5
I was worried when we could only find water 7 billion light years away, since this limited our ability to travel any farther than that. Now it seems we can travel up to 11 billion light years and still get a drink (not to mention hydrogen for fuel and oxygen to breathe.) Whew, what a relief. This is very pertinent information.

By callmeroy on 12/22/2008 1:05:45 PM , Rating: 2
Two words can make this possible "Ludicrous Speed". :)

By Jimbo1234 on 12/22/2008 1:59:10 PM , Rating: 2
Why are we always preparing?

By bobsmith1492 on 12/22/2008 1:44:00 PM , Rating: 2
I was just thinking about Star Trek in which all the systems with planets are a few light-years apart... and I thought ok, that's feasible some day! Maybe with nuclear-powered ion drives we could get up to 1/2 the speed of light or so, meaning we could reach these places in a number of years.

But, billions of light-years? That's completely unrealistic to travel without FTL travel. :(

By MrBungle123 on 12/23/2008 12:51:11 PM , Rating: 2
Reaching a star system as close as Alpha Centauri isn't really practical without FTL travel.

Hold on a sec
By Pirks on 12/22/2008 2:57:31 PM , Rating: 1
Isn't a black hole supposed to hold the matter and even radiation inside?

Judging by what I've read in popular science books the black hole's gravitational pull is so strong that matter must travel at a speed greater than a speed of light to be able to leave that black hole.

Isn't the article above a real proof that matter can travel with a speed greater than speed of light? Otherwise how could this water leave the black hole??

If the answer is yes then... we can eventually travel faster than the light speed. If this water can do this... and if we understand how black hole accelerates water to such a humongous speed.

Sounds logical? What do you tink guys?

RE: Hold on a sec
By elessar1 on 12/22/2008 6:24:29 PM , Rating: 2
as radiation...thats wath is left after matter came into the black hole...

RE: Hold on a sec
By MrBungle123 on 12/23/2008 12:56:44 PM , Rating: 2
Isn't the article above a real proof that matter can travel with a speed greater than speed of light? Otherwise how could this water leave the black hole??

Well not always, Chuck Norris is mostly water and he can easily escape black holes at sub light speeds.

The Plan
By JonnyDough on 12/22/2008 12:04:58 PM , Rating: 2
1. Discover water far, far, away.
2. Build a giant "Death Star"
3. Travel there via new giant floating orb.
4. Discover that due to the distance, the entire solar system is no longer there.
5. Perish from thirst.

RE: The Plan
By Major HooHaa on 12/30/2008 6:34:54 PM , Rating: 2
A "Death Star" with a giant "la-ser" and possibly angry mutant sea bass.

By werepossum on 12/22/2008 1:05:02 PM , Rating: 2
Ahh, I wondered about that sign that read "LAST WATER FOR 65,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 MILES". Now I understand.

RE: Ahh
By DeepBlue1975 on 12/23/2008 11:05:47 AM , Rating: 2
And don't forget about those annoying publicity signs:

"Are you thirsty already?"
"Afraid you won't see water for another 10^10^10 miles and your reserves are not enough?"
"Call WetHolesar! Our premium galactic water delivery service. We have the best transwarp water conduits. From our quasar fountain, directly to your bridge."

Small letter notice:
We only accept latinum bricks. Just throw them on your nearest black hole featuring WetHolesar's logo.

By Spectator on 12/22/2008 1:07:43 PM , Rating: 2
This may sound 101 but. we had to send probes to check for water on moon and mars?

But this tool can find water on a planet many light years away. Am I missing something obvious from the logic?, Why spend time/effort/money on sending probes to nearby planets if this tool is reliable?

RE: Logic?
By Master Kenobi on 12/22/2008 2:50:12 PM , Rating: 2
This tool can find liquid water. We send probes to see if water "was" present, or "is" present in another form (See: Ice).

Food Replicator
By bobgoh on 12/22/2008 7:15:00 PM , Rating: 2
If we can travel that far, perhaps we already master the e=mc2 where we can convert energy to anything including water (aka food replicator in Star Trek).

By the way, how do we know the radio signal was not distorted after travelling 6 billions light year?

RE: Food Replicator
By bobny1 on 12/22/2008 9:35:28 PM , Rating: 2
Whow do they know if it is actually water or Alien pee?. Do they have the same frequency?..LOl

By sirius4k on 12/23/2008 2:05:14 AM , Rating: 2
This is cool and all, but I thought that NOTHING can escape the "black" hole =|

By DeepBlue1975 on 12/23/2008 7:27:40 AM , Rating: 2
Not true, it is believed that black holes emit x-rays.

Anyway it's a quasar they're talking about here, not just the regular, boring kind of black hole you'd find across the street (?)

"If a man really wants to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion." -- Scientology founder L. Ron. Hubbard
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