When peeking out into the vast beyond in black hole APM 08279+5255’s (lovely name, isn’t it?) general direction, a group of astronomers spotted something a little surprising surrounding the black hole: a gigantic reservoir of water.
Not just a gigantic reservoir of water, though. According to NASA, what they found was not only the largest body of water ever found – containing 140 trillion times the amount of water in Earth’s oceans – but also the most distant reservoir of water ever detected.
Two teams of astronomers made the discovery using California Institute of Technology’s Submillimeter Observatory’s Z-Spec instrument. The teams expected to find traces of water off in the more distant parts of the universe, but what they ended up finding handily exceeded their expectations.
The massive black hole, located roughly 12 billion lightyears away from Earth, is feeding off of the surrounding gases and is, apparently, washing it down with water. According to NASA’s estimations, there’s enough material surrounding the black hole for it to grow at least six times its current size.