Photo: NASA / JPL-Caltech
Scientists at the University of Arizona has solved the mystery of emergence in planetary nebulae of buckyballs or fullerenol — molecular spheres of carbon atoms that form closed polyhedra. It was believed that such substances can be obtained only in laboratory conditions, so their presence in outer space remained a long time unexplained. About it reported in a press release on the website Phys.org.
The researchers simulated the environment inside a planetary nebula using transmission electron microscope, which shines through the samples in a vacuum using the electron beam. They put in the device is silicon carbide, which usually consists of cosmic dust, in low pressure conditions subjecting it to a temperature of about thousands of degrees Celsius and irradiated with high-energetic ions of xenon.
As a result, the grains consisting of graphite, which are formed by five-membered and six-membered cycles of carbon. Where the surface of the granules was irregular, cycles have formed a spherical structure, the diameter of the corresponding fullerene C60, which consists of 60 carbon atoms.
Scientists believe that fullerenes arise from the dust emitted into space by dying stars that become planetary nebulae. Silicon carbide is exposed to high temperatures, shock waves and high-energy particles that knock the silicon atoms, leaving the carbon structure. Balibali resistant to radiation, allowing them to survive for millions of years.
Video, photo All from Russia.