01/07/2014 08:19 BST | Updated 01/07/2014 12:59 BST

This Is A Snowflake, Magnified 50,000 Times

This incredible image (courtesy of Wikipedia and Gizmodo) is actually a snowflake... but really, really close up.

What might at first glance appear to be a strange alien landscape is in fact snow that has been bombarded with tiny super-cooled droplets of water.


Known as Rime Ice, it's found in a very particular type of weather system: fog. The super-cooled droplets will then hit the surface of the snowflake and stick to it, causing that mottled effect on each end.

Zoom out and you'll find Rime Ice is everywhere as it's the snow that first coats your windscreen when hit by fog, or if you've ever seen a tree transformed into what looks like an alien statue then you can thank Rime ice for that as well.

Because it requires the freezing of fog droplets, it'll stick to almost anything creating some truly extraordinary snow formations on objects from lamposts to entire apartment blocks.