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"Does Hot Ice Exist?"

By EnigmaReader-2 | EnigmaReaders | 27 Apr 2020

Does Hot Ice Exist?


Would you believe me if I tell you that ice as hot as 300 degrees celsius exists?

Ice as we know it are basically crystalline frozen water. We commonly observe that ice forms when the liquid water cools down. When the water temperature reaches around 0°C, the molecules stick together and form a solid ice. And when water reaches about 100°C, it boils and it dramatically evaporates into steam.

So how on Earth can a 300°C ice exist? That's just out of this world.

Well apparently, it is. Literally! About 30 light-years away from our world to be precise.

A planet about the size of Neptune in a distant solar system that orbits very close to its star has seemingly observed to be covered with hot ice.

The name of the exotic planet is GJ 436 b, and it's diameter is about 50,000 kilometers, four times that of Earth. By measuring it's mass and volume, physicists therefore concluded that the planet is too compact to be made mostly of lightweight hydrogen gas, like Jupiter, but not compact enough to be full of heavy metals, as some had speculated, and so it must be made mostly of an "exotic form of water".

Although it orbits around a red dwarf so it is much cooler than our own Sun. However, GJ 436 b orbits 13 times closer to the star than Mercury’s orbit around the Sun. That means the surface must be a blazing hot 300° C.

A temperature that high would vaporize the water into steam. But apparently, the high pressures in the planet’s interior would compress the water molecules so much that it would stay crystalline solid even at a high temperature.

The phenomenon is of course not new to us, it's just like carbon that transforms into a crystal diamond under extreme pressures.

But just imagine, a hot ice? It just makes us wonder what other exotic things are out there in space.


• "Strange alien world made of hot ice " by David Shiga. NewScientist | 2007

• "Exotic World Said to Harbor Hot Ice" by Ker Than. Space-Com | 2007


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