Weird magnetic fields of Uranus and Neptune may come from strange space chemistry

An image of Uranus on the left and Neptune on the right They look almost indiscernible as they
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In the depths of our solar system — a realm where chemistry meets speculation — scientists have reported the possible existence of a molecule known as aquodiium, an elusive cousin of the ammonium ion. If true, that could explain oddities in Neptune and Uranus’ magnetic fields.


This is a big deal because stable aquodiium, which consists of four atoms of hydrogen and one atom of oxygen (H4O2+), has never been observed before due to the high energy barrier involved in adding a second proton to the molecule hydronium (H3O+), which is how aquodiium must be formed. Hydronium, however, is a bit easier to create. It forms through the fundamental process of adding a proton to water. The jump from hydronium to aquodiium is the hard part.

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