Superionic Water, Discovered on Neptune and Uranus (Study)


Both Uranus and Neptune were confirmed to be holding superionic water.

Up until now, scientists only suspected the existence of superionic water on Neptune and Uranus, but they couldn’t confirm it. Luckily, the use of novel instruments of exploration led to a new discovery.

What Is Superionic Water?

In a new study that was published in the journal Nature Physics, the research team confirmed the existence of superionic water on the surface of two planets, namely Neptune and Uranus. Still, what exactly is this superionic water?

Scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, who run the study, say that it is a substance that is neither solid nor liquid. It currently exists in a sludge-like state. They managed to obtain this result by using a shock compression technology.

When the scientists applied an excess of pressure to the water, the substance changed its state in a strange, yet interesting manner. What happens, in fact, is that the hydrogen jumps from one molecule to another.

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Thus, it radically changes its form. Meanwhile, the oxygen keeps its original crystal structure, staying intact. There is plenty of such water found on the two planets mentioned above. For this reason, researchers want to find out more about its nature and how it interacts with other surrounding elements.

Future Research

The current study was conducted over a period of five years. Researchers were curious to find out more about superionic water. They especially looked to establish this since there is not enough pressure on most small-sized planets to create such water.

Next, they want to find out what happens when you mix this type of water with methane and ammonia. What they could find out would help humanity understand more about planets.

Up until now, scientists tested this water only in an isolated state. That’s why everybody is curious to see what happens when you mix it with other substances as well. Moreover, further research might help reveal more about the evolutionary patterns within our solar system.

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Image Source: Wikimedia

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