Thursday, July 22, 2010

Buckyballs in space

Canadian astronomer Jan Cami (U. of Western Ontario) used the Spitzer telescope to identify the heaviest molecules ever detected in space. Buckyballs, officially called buckministerfullerenes after the famous architect, are composed of 60 carbon atoms arranged in the shape of a football or the geodesic dome designed by Fuller.The bucky balls were identified in the infrared spectrum of the planetary nebula Tc 1.

Scientists have been searching for buckyballs in space since soon after they were discovered in the lab in 1985. These molecules appear to be located on the carbon dust grains that form in the material ejected from the star as it forms a planetary nebula.

More information is available here.

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