Snowflake

Snowflake

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This image is part of the feature The Snowflake World Of Kenneth Libbrecht

Credit: KENNETH LIBBRECHT/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Snowflake. This is an ice crystal that forms in air that has a temperature near the freezing point of water. If the air is calm, then a symmetrical, hexagonal snowflake can form. The two main growth patterns observed are faceting and branching. When growth is slow, the straight edges and hexagonal shapes of faceting create a plate snowflake. As a snowflake grows, instabilities cause branching and the star-shaped patterns of a dendritic snowflake. Snowflakes can display both types of growth. This one was mostly formed by plate growth. The type of growth also depends on temperature, which changes in a different way for each snowflake, causing the wide variation in snowflake patterns.

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Keywords: 6-sided, branching, christmas, climate, cold, crystal, crystalline, faceting, faceting plate, flake, freezing, freezing ice crystal, frozen, frozen water, hexagon, hexagonal, ice, icy, meteorological, meteorology, one, pattern, patterns, plate, precipitation, seasonal, single, six-sided, snowflake, stellar, symmetrical, symmetrical structure, symmetry, symmetry unique, unique, water, weather, winter, winter weather, wintry, xmas

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