Buckyballs Go Extraterrestrial

  • Author: David Bradley
  • Published: 27 July 2010
  • Copyright: Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA
  • Source / Publisher: Science/AAAS
thumbnail image: Buckyballs Go Extraterrestrial

The all-carbon fullerene molecules, C60 and C70, have been found in space by using the infrared spectrograph on NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope.

Canadian researchers analyzed data from the planetary nebula Tc 1 in the southern constellation Ara and now have convincing evidence that the fullerenes exist in cosmic dust. The discovery could resolve a 90-year old puzzle regarding the diffuse interstellar bands (DIBs) which were the inspiration for Sir Harry Kroto and his colleagues who discovered the fullerenes back in the 1990s. Astronomers and chemists have been at pains to explain DIBs since their discovery in 1919, their existence suggests an abundance of highly stable carbon compounds in the space between the stars.

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