A study of ancient molecular clouds in our home galaxy Milky Way has made astronomers conclude that the reservoir of water in our universe existed much before than originally thought. To be more precise, the universe used to be filled with water just a billion years following Big Bang.
According to experts, the biggest challenge faced by water formation, which is a molecule containing a couple of hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom, is that all elements heavier than helium had to be formed within the cores of the stars and not by Big Bang.
The oldest stars required a lot of time for formation; they also needed additional time for getting matured and some more time before they finally died. So, heavy elements such as oxygen emerged from the star’s furnace after the star was formed.
Keeping this entire process and the delay caused by it in mind, and considering that the oxygen atoms will take some more time for dispersing all through the cosmos and attaching to hydrogen, astronomers have long assumed that water (H2O) appeared in the universe quite late.
However, a recent research is suggesting that water reservoirs in the universe are much older than originally thought. Astronomers involved in the said study are saying that water formation took place just a billion years after the birth of our universe.
Astrophysicist Avi Loeb, who is a part of the research group carrying out this study, said that he and his team analyzed the chemistry of young molecular clouds and found that the sun contains thousand times more oxygen than those clouds. He added that the entire research team was surprised know that it is possible to gather as much water vapor as seen in the Earth’s home galaxy Milky Way.
This research is more interesting as it suggests that even when just 1 billion-year-old, our universe used to have a pretty rich environment for allowing H2O formation in clouds that had comparatively less oxygen. This paved the way for the formation of stars that gave birth to planets that already had water in them. This discovery is quite crucial as water is believed to be the key component for life.