Artist rendering of a quasar
Artist rendering of a quasar NASA

Astronomers have discovered a massive water reservoir, floating around a black hole in the universe.

The cloud of water vapor, located well over 10 billion light years from Earth, contains more than 140 trillion times the mass of water in the Earth's oceans.

Since astronomers expected water vapor to be present even in the early universe, the discovery of water is not itself a surprise, the Carnegie Institution, one of the groups behind the findings, said in a statement to the press.

The water cloud was found to be in the central regions of a faraway quasar.

Quasars contain massive black holes that steadily consuming a surrounding disk of gas and dust; as it eats, the quasar spews out amounts of energy, the Institution said in its statement.

The quasar where the gigantic water reservoir is located is some 12 billion years old, only 1.6 billion years younger than the Big Bang.

It is older than the formation most of the stars in the disk of the Milky Way galaxy.

The research team was comprised of a wide array of international talent.

The Carnegie Institution's Eric Murphy headed up the study.

Also involved were astronomers and scientists from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the California Institute of Technology, the University of Maryland, the University of Colorado, the University of Pennsylvania, and the Institute for Space and Astronautical Science in Japan.

Research on the discovery is slated to be published in a coming issue of Astrophysical Journal Letters, a publication for space enthusiasts.

Astronomers used giant telescopes in Hawaii and California to discover and verify the existence of the giant water-bearing cloud, according to

A major new telescope called the CCAT will enable scientists to measure the amount of water vapor throughout the universe.

The CCAT telescope is still in the design phases.

But after its creation, discoveries like this may well become commonplace.

In a world concerned with a major water crisis, the existence of extraterrestrial water is particularly ironic.

Some 1.1 billion people live without clean drinking water, according to the World Water Council, a global water movement for a water secure world.

That means that more than two out of six people are without access to drinking water that is safe for consumption.

Population concerns are expected to exacerbate the crisis. The Council notes that within the next fifty years, the world population will increase by another 40 to 50 percent.