The Hubble Space Telescope recently spied new evidence of a peculiar molecule: wiggly buckyballs, which have intrigued astrophysicists since they were discovered in space nearly a decade ago.
Dubbed Buckminsterfullerene, these supersize molecules are made of 60 carbon atoms linked together in pentagons and hexagons to form a hollow sphere. The shape of these structures is much like a soccer ball, or like the geodesic domes designed by 20th-century architect Richard Buckminster Fuller (the inspiration for the molecule’s name).
Buckyballs were first spotted in space in the form of a gas in 2010, and then as particles in 2012. And now, Hubble has spotted the first evidence of charged buckyballs hiding in the thin plumes of gas and dust that drift between stars, known as the interstellar medium, scientists reported in a new study.