Astronomers have discovered solid soccer-ball shaped molecules called buckyballs in space for the first time, providing a glimpse of the structure of matter and perhaps life in the cosmos.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory yesterday announced that the Spitzer Space Telescope was able to detect the buckyballs around a pair of stars 6,500 light-years from Earth. Named after the geodesic domes of architect Buckminster Fuller, buckministerfullerenes, or buckyballs, are sphere-shaped molecules with 60 carbon atoms. The unusual cage-like structure has made them candidates for storing hydrogen fuel or medical treatments on Earth.
Until now, astronomers have only found buckyballs in a gas form in space. Data from the telescope showed the microscopic molecules, each thinner than a strand of hair, to be stacked on top each other in a volume equivalent to 10,000 Mount Everests. … Read more