May 06, 2019

Image courtesy of NASA

Using the Hubble Telescope, Martin Cordiner — a research associate with the Department of PhysicsInstitute for Astrophysics and Computational Sciences — confirmed the presence of Buckminsterfullerene, or buckyballs, in interstellar space.

Buckyballs are enormous “celebrity molecules” made of 60 carbon atoms arranged in the shape of a soccer ball.

What makes up “space”? Cordiner and a team of international researchers recently presented a study demonstrating the existence of Buckyballs, a much larger molecule than previous detected, in the diffuse interstellar medium (ISM), the area between us and the stars.

Their discovery improves our understanding of the composition of the diffuse ISM, and the conditions and environment of interstellar space.

Read more in AAS NOVA or Cordiner’s research article in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

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