NASA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY NASA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Buckyballs in space. Animation of a vibrating buckminsterfullerene molecules (buckyballs) 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. These molecules vibrate, and certain vibrational modes cause them to either absorb or emit infrared light. NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope detected these vibrational signatures in space. The discovery implies that these little carbon spheres are prevalent in certain stellar regions of the cosmos.
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