By James Burgess
Have our wishes been answered? Scientists have found an oil field which contains 200 times more hydrocarbons than there is water on the whole of the Earth.
Time to wave peak oil goodbye forever … but before you do I should probably inform you of the tiny hiccup in any plan to develop this oil field.
It is around 1,300 light years away.
The scientists work at the Max Planck Institute in Germany, and using the 30m-telescope of the Institute for Radio Astronomy they discovered a vast cloud of hydrocarbons within the Horse Head Nebula galaxy in the Orion constellation.
Upon discovery of the cloud IRAM astronomer Viviana Guzman declared that, “the nebula contains 200 times more hydrocarbons than the total amount of water on Earth!”
Just for those of you curious as to exactly how many barrels of oil that roughly equates to, here you go: one hundred and fifty-five quintillion, two hundred and thirty-eight quadrillion, ninety-five trillion, two hundred and thirty-eight billion, ninety-five million, two hundred and fifty thousand, or 155,238,095,238,095,250,000 barrels.
Now like me you might be wondering how oil, which is supposedly produced from organic matter buried millions of years ago, could possibly exist in space. Well it turns out that these hydrocarbons were likely created by the fragmentation of giant carbonaceous molecules called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which are produced during the death of a star.
There is even a theory that molecules such as these could have served as the first organic compounds for creating life.