NASA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY NASA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Soccer ball and buckyball. Animation of a rotating soccer ball and a buckminsterfullerene molecule (buckyball) in space. Buckminsterfullerene is a structurally distinct form (allotrope) of carbon that has 60 carbon atoms arranged in a spherical structure consisting of interlinking hexagonal and pentagonal rings, like a soccer ball. The structures of soccer balls and buckyballs both contain 12 pentagons and 20 hexagons (the pentagons are black on soccer balls). NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has detected the solid form of these buckyballs in space. To form a solid particle they must stack together. The discovery implies that these little carbon spheres are prevalent in certain stellar regions of the cosmos.
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