In keeping with the solar-system-is-wet theme I’ve had going of late, I read an article earlier this week about the discovery of a huge cloud of water vapour in a galaxy 12 billion light years from our home.
The scientists that made this announcement have calculated the this cloud contains 140 trillion times more water than there is on Earth. Thinking of it another way, that’s enough water to create oceans on 140 trillion Earth sized planets.
Astronomers currently believe that there is up to 50 billion planets in the Milky Way, and possibly another 100 billion planets wandering through space with no star to orbit. If the 140 trillion Earth’s worth of water was spread evenly amongst the estimated number planets in our galaxy, there would be nearly 1,000 oceans of water for every planet.
It must have been tough to find solid ground in that galaxy, 12 billion years ago.
Although mind-boggling, it’s not too surprising to hear that there’s lots of water, otherwise known as H2O, in the Universe. Hydrogen is the most plentiful element and while oxygen isn’t nearly as abundant, it’s still one of the more common elements, appearing at position eight on the periodic table.
While we’re used to thinking of it as a gas, or a component of water, it’s also found in high concentration in rock. While adding more information about the Earth to Solar Explorer for the latest release, I found out that the mass of the Earth is more than 30% oxygen, while the crust is nearly 50%, the oxygen trapped in the form of oxides such as common rust.