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Space ice

Water freezes into ice. This is not new information to you (I hope). But which kind? Because there are eighteen different phases of ice, including electric viral space ice.

According to the pressure and temperature under which ice freezes, it can form crystals of various configurations. By far the most common is Ice Ih, which is hexagonal. Its crystalline structure is why most snowflakes are six-sided.

The only other one that commonly appears on Earth is Ice Ic, affectionately known as Ice Icy. (Lolz.) It’s cubic, sometimes forms in the upper atmosphere, and can cause a halo to appear around the moon – although not the 22° halo I described in moon rings and sun dogs.

And then there are a bunch of other ices formed in labs. Tetragonal ice, rhombohedral ice… square ice was first reported in 2014. My favourite has to be Ice Eleven (Ice XI). It is thought to float through space and latch on to other types of ice, converting them to its own crystalline configuration like a kind of ice virus. Also, it is electric. (Well, technically it displays inherent polarization, but it sounds cooler to say that it’s electric.)

Categories: Earth & sky Physics & chemistry Sciences

The Generalist

I live in Auckland, New Zealand, and am curious about most things.

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