Feeds

Spitzer spots first solid buckyballs in stellar disc

Stacks the size of 10,000 Everests found

New hybrid storage solutions

The first solid “buckyball” Carbon-60 molecules have been spotted forming a ring around a star 6,500 light-years away, according to data from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope.

A new paper reports a pair of stars called "XX Ophiuchi," with what looks like a disc of the molecules - dubbed Buckminsterfullerene after the architect who used a similar geodesic style - in orbit around one of the stars. In total they have a mass equivalent to 10,000 Everests, but in practice form a thin ring in orbit around a B-class subdwarf star in the system.

"These buckyballs are stacked together to form a solid, like oranges in a crate," said Nye Evans of Keele University in England, lead author of the paper published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, in a statement. "The particles we detected are miniscule, far smaller than the width of a hair, but each one would contain stacks of millions of buckyballs."

Natural buckyball crates found in orbit

Buckyball ring stacks up in stellar orbit

Spritzer caught the first glimpse of gaseous Carbon-60 in 2010, but this first sighting of the formations as solids, suggesting that they may be more common than first thought. While Buckminsterfullerene occurs naturally in some forms of soot and minerals, it’s only in the last 20 years that humans have been able to synthesize it in appreciable quantities of the pure form.

"This exciting result suggests that buckyballs are even more widespread in space than the earlier Spitzer results showed," said Mike Werner, project scientist for Spitzer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "They may be an important form of carbon, an essential building block for life, throughout the cosmos." ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
Boffins: Behold the SILICON CHEAPNESS of our tiny, radio-signal-munching IoT sensor
Single ant-sized Stanford chip combines radio, 'puter, antenna
Thought that last dinosaur was BIG? This one's bloody ENORMOUS
Weighed several adult elephants, contend boffins
TROUT and EELS in SINISTER PACT to RULE the oceans
Slimy chums form deadly alliance to sweep seas
Drones swarm over bearded Brit billionaire's island getaway
Just to take lovely pictures though, after Richard Branson invests in 3D Robotics
Chelyabinsk-sized SURPRISE asteroid to skim Earth, satnav birds
Space rock appears out of nowhere, buzzes planet on Sunday
California blue whale numbers soar to historical levels, say boffins
Still far too many of them being struck by US ships, mind
City hidden beneath England's Stonehenge had HUMAN ABATTOIR. And a pub
Boozed-up ancients drank beer before tearing corpses apart
'Duck face' selfie in SPAAAACE: Rosetta's snap with bird comet
Probe prepares to make first landing on fast-moving rock
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.