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Thank Our Lucky Stars for Water

by Leslie Gabriel July 12, 2014

Water vapor existing within interstellar space?

Maybe on Star Trek or Lost in Space, you say, but not in our universe, right? Well, according to researchers who have discovered water vapor--and quite a bit of it--in an interstellar gas cloud near the Orion Molecular Cloud (Nebula), the universe may be drenched in water.

The discovery in Astrophysical Journal Letters and summarize in the Harvard Gazette says that this phenomenon-- "a concentration of water vapor 20 times larger than previously measured...may give us important clues to the origin of water in our solar system."

Water, water everywhere--and plenty to spare, or so it seems, now that water has been found in the cold, silent depths of deep space. But how can water develop where oxygen does not exist?

It seems that when incredible bursts of cosmic energy demanded to create a star is sustained by outward blasts of dust and gas, this energy clashes with gas enveloping the newborn star. Shock waves generated by this burst compress and rapidly heat gases, creating water vapor.

Extreme Heat, Water Formation and--Us

This discovery verifies the long-time prediction by astrophysicists that when temperatures exceed 200 degrees Fahrenheit (93.3 degrees Celsius), intense chemical reactions emerge that convert oxygen atoms floating within insterstellar gas into H20.

And voila! Precious, wonderful, magical water!

In fact, the amount of water molecules found in Orion can generate enough water in one day to fill all four of the Earth's oceans sixty times over, according to Johns Hopkins University Professor Dave Neufeld.  Neufeld says that "similar ice particles were presumably present within the gas cloud from which the solar system originally much of the water in the solar system was originally produced in a giant water vapor factory like the one we have observed in Orion" (

As astrophysicists continue making remarkable discoveries about our Universe, the awareness that without water there would no life becomes inescapable and extraordinary, an empirical eternal truth.. It is this pervasiveness of water even in the deepest, coldest regions of space that makes Carl Sagan's famous quote "we are star stuff" one of the most meaningful insights of the 20th century.


Leslie Gabriel
Leslie Gabriel


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