Tech & Science: Mystery behind interstellar 'buckyballs' revealed - - PressFrom - United Kingdom
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Tech & Science Mystery behind interstellar 'buckyballs' revealed

12:55  17 november  2019
12:55  17 november  2019 Source:   news.sky.com

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Scientists believe they understand how mysterious interstellar " buckyballs " - complicated carbon molecules which appear scattered throughout the space between stars - are actually formed. The " buckyballs " themselves are officially named Buckminsterfullerene

The instrument revealed that buckyballs had formed in samples exposed to conditions thought to reflect those in planetary nebulae. For decades, people thought interstellar space was sprinkled with lightweight molecules only: mostly single atoms, two-atom molecules and the occasional nine or

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Scientists believe they understand how mysterious interstellar "buckyballs" - complicated carbon molecules which appear scattered throughout the space between stars - are actually formed.

The "buckyballs" themselves are officially named Buckminsterfullerene, after the American futurist Buckminster Fuller and the suffix "-ene" showing that they're an unsaturated hydrocarbon.

Buckminster Fuller was responsible for a number of popular geodesic dome designs, which the molecule's structure strongly resembles - as it does a football with the arrangement of pentagons and hexagons on its sides.

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The instrument revealed that buckyballs had formed in samples exposed to conditions thought to reflect those in planetary nebulae. Credit: Daniel Stolte/University Communications. "It's not that we necessarily tailored the instrument to have these specific kinds of pressures," said Tom Zega

Science and technology news. Mysteries Behind Interstellar Buckyballs Finally Answered. Posted Yesterday. This news or article is intended for An artist’s conception showing spherical carbon molecules known as buckyballs coming out from a planetary nebula — material shed by a dying star.

In scientific terms, the molecule is known as Carbon 60 (C60) and is a spherical molecule made up of 60 carbon atoms arranged in rings of five and six atoms.

Scientists had assumed that the vacuum of interstellar space had only a few very lightweight molecules spread throughout it, mostly single or double-atom molecules.

But a few years ago enormous complication carbon molecules with 60 or 70 atoms in them were detected - and surprisingly they were made purely of carbon atoms.

a close up of a star: The molecules are formed in planetary nebula © Getty The molecules are formed in planetary nebula

On Earth, laboratory environments are necessary to create C60, with scientists blasting together pure carbon sources such as graphite.

In space, C60 was detected in nebulae, the remnants of an explosion from a dying star - an environment which has 10,000 hydrogen molecules for every carbon molecule.

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from research organizations. Mysteries behind interstellar buckyballs finally answered. University of Arizona. " Mysteries behind interstellar buckyballs finally answered: Researchers discovered a mechanism creating complex carbon molecules in a simulated planetary nebula environment."

The instrument revealed that spaces in between stars—thus accounting for their. buckyballs had formed in samples exposed to conditions presence APA citation: Mysteries behind interstellar buckyballs finally answered (2019, November 13) retrieved 14 November 2019 from https

"Any hydrogen should destroy fullerene synthesis," explained astrobiology and chemistry doctoral student at the University of Arizona Jacob Bernal, who is the lead author of the paper on "buckyballs".

"If you have a box of balls, and for every 10,000 hydrogen balls you have one carbon, and you keep shaking them, how likely is it that you get 60 carbons to stick together? It's very unlikely."

An artist's conception of 'buckyballs' © Press Release An artist's conception of 'buckyballs'

Mr Bernal and his team discovered that the C60 was derived from the silicon carbide dust in nebulae.

This dust is hit by high temperatures, shockwaves and high energy particles, all of which works to leech silicon from their surfaces and leave only the carbon behind.

"These big molecules are dispersed because dying stars eject their material into the interstellar medium - the spaces in between stars - thus accounting for their presence outside of planetary nebulae," explains the paper.

And because of their purity and shape, "buckyballs" are very resistant to damage from radiation, allowing them to retain their shape and survive for billions of years if shielded from the harsh environment of space.

"The conditions in the universe where we would expect complex things to be destroyed are actually the conditions that create them," Mr Bernal said, adding that the implications of the findings are endless.

"If this mechanism is forming C60, it's probably forming all kinds of carbon nanostructures," co-author Professor Lucy Ziurys said.

"And if you read the chemical literature, these are all thought to be synthetic materials only made in the lab, and yet, interstellar space seems to be making them naturally."

Mystery Solved in Galaxy Far, Far Away? .
For decades, astronomers have been hunting for a missing neutron star. They may have just found it. For decades, a mystery has consumed the field of astronomy. On February 23, 1987, researchers witnessed the colossal explosion of a star, Sanduleak -69 202, approximately 163,000 light years from Earth in the Large Magellanic Cloud dwarf galaxy. In the wake of supernova 1987A, as it was called, astronomers expected to find a neutron star. Instead, they found nothing but a dense cloud of gas and dust. Due to SN1987A’s mass—about 20 times that of our sun—scientists believed it would form a neutron star.

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