Saturday, December 4

We have detected water so ancient and far away that it was already present in the early stages of the universe

Water has proven to be in more places than we imagined in space, but the discovery that they have done from the University of Illinois tells us that in addition to that, water as such is much older than we imagine. We have detected it in one of the oldest galaxies in the universe, present for 12,880 million years.

Solving the mystery of how the first galaxies formed

The galaxy has the name of SPT0311-58, and it is the product of two galaxies that are about to collide and merge into one (or were about to do so 12.880 million years ago, which is how long it takes for their light to arrive to our telescopes). This light is very diffuse, but even so we have been able to analyze the spectrometry of the gases of the galaxy detecting water and carbon monoxide in them.

That there is water in the confines of the universe is considered probable, but the interesting thing is that water was already present when the universe was “only” 780 million years old (the cosmic “infancy”). It means that the water formed at the same time as the first signs of heavy elements. This also means that life may have been around for a long time.

Those responsible for the discovery also hope to take advantage of it to learn more about how the first stars and galaxies formed from the gases that were abundant in the universe when it was only 5% the age it is today. From gases to galaxies, stars, planets, water and perhaps life.

Image | Billy Guynh

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