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Chemistry

Weird form of 'dangling' ice spotted in space for the first time

A type of ice that has only ever been seen in the lab has now been found in space by the James Webb Space Telescope, and understanding it could tell us more about the chemistry that led to life on Earth

By Alex Wilkins

5 July 2024

The ice was found in the Chamaeleon I Cloud, a star-forming region

NASA, ESA, K. Luhman and T. Esplin (Pennsylvania State Uni), et al./ESO/Gladys Kober/Catholic Uni of America

Fluffy ice that could help create the molecular building blocks for life has been spotted in space for the first time, nearly 30 years since researchers first observed it in the lab.

Normally, ice has a solid crystal lattice structure, with all of its H2O molecules strongly held together via their hydrogen and oxygen atoms. But when ice isn鈥檛 fully compacted, such as in powdery snow, some of these molecules can have…

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