Experiments conducted in the laboratory indicated the existence of a mysterious form of ice. However, it does not start melting when the temperature exceeds 0°C. We are talking about a solid and a liquid. According to scientists, they can be found inside massive bodies containing water, such as Uranus or Neptune.
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During experiments, a few years ago scientists created this ice, describing it as superionized. Four years ago, they confirmed its existence and crystal structure. The most recent results on this matter are presented in Scientific reports.
As it turns out, the conclusions drawn may be crucial in the context of learning the secrets of planets such as Uranus and Neptune. Questions that researchers would like to answer include those related to the strange magnetic fields of these objects. Furthermore, superionized ice may be surprisingly common, occurring on many exoplanets, commonly called exoplanets.
Superice may exist inside objects such as Uranus and Neptune
How are they different from Earth? First of all, the pressure that can be up to two million times greater than the pressure in the Earth’s atmosphere. In turn, temperatures inside may be higher than those on the surface of the Sun. As for the structure of this unusual substance, its oxygen atoms are closed in a cubic lattice. In turn, ionized hydrogen atoms are released and flow through this network in a manner similar to the flow of electrons through metals.
In this way, superionized ice acquires conductive properties and has a higher melting point. In recent experiments using very powerful laser rays, scientists decided to treat water sandwiched between two layers of diamond with such rays. In such conditions, the temperature rises to about 4700 degrees Celsius and the pressure to two million atmospheres.
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The idea, of course, was to mimic the conditions expected to exist inside planets like Neptune. Using X-ray diffraction, scientists were able to see the crystalline structure of the superionized ice, although the favorable conditions only lasted for a fraction of a second. As members of the research team explain, the ice they immortalized has a cubic structure and increased conductivity compared to previous observations. It appears that the increased conductivity of this superionized ice should encourage the occurrence of the magnetic anomalies observed on Uranus and Neptune.
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