How Do Ice Giants Like Uranus and Neptune Maintain Their Magnetic Fields?

Image of Neptune taken by NASA’s Voyager 2 mission. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Probing the structures and properties of superionic ice.
A layer of “hot,” electrically conductive ice could be responsible for generating the magnetic fields of ice giant planets like Uranus and Neptune. New work from Carnegie and the University of Chicago’s Center for Advanced Radiation Sources reveals the conditions under which two such superionic ices form. Their findings are published in Nature Physics. 
As all schoolchildren learn, water molecules are made up of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom—H20. As the conditions in which water exists …