Hubble space telescope spots 'electric soccer balls' in space

  • 5 years ago
SPACE — The Hubble Space Telescope have identified electrically-charged molecules in space that are shaped like soccer balls.

According to NASA, Buckminsterfullerene or Buckyballs, are molecules made of 60 carbon atoms arranged in a hollow sphere, in the rough shape of a soccer ball.

Buckyballs, which are also called C60, has been found on Earth in some rare cases, in rocks and minerals or in soot created from high-temperature combustion.

Though Buckyballs have been seen in space before, scientists using the Hubble Space Telescope recently discovered for the first time ionized C60 within the interstellar medium or ISM.

The C60 becomes ionized when ultraviolet light from stars strips off an electron from the molecule, giving it a positive charge.

The ISM is the diffuse matter and radiation that exists in between solar systems, which was previously considered too harsh an environment to sustain complex carbon-based molecules.

Though most of it contains helium and hydrogen, it contains many other compounds that have not been identified.

Researchers say they will continue searching the universe to see where else they can locate C60+. The Epoch Times reports that at the moment, observations seem to be pointing to a widespread presence in the Milky Way.