Never mind the Space Balls it seems NASA has discovered solid Buckyballs in space

While the Space Balls might have been a movie that came out of someone’s imagination Buckyballs are actually something pretty cool and something I’ve written about before somewhere; however, NASA loves being able to one up everyone with even cooler variations and apparently they have done that to the Buckyballs.

It seems that they have discovered solid Buckyballs out there in space thanks to the Spitzer Telescope. Previous to this the microscopic carbon spheres were only thought to be found in gas form out there is the cosmos.

Of course buckyballs are just the fun name for the more serious term buckminsterfullerene but they are named that because of their resemblance to Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic domes. Made up of 60 carbon molecules and arranged in a hollow sphere their structure makes them perfect candidates for electrical and chemical applications on Earth.

In the latest discovery, scientists using Spitzer detected tiny specks of matter, or particles, consisting of stacked buckyballs. They found the particles around a pair of stars called “XX Ophiuchi,” 6,500 light-years from Earth, and detected enough to fill the equivalent in volume to 10,000 Mount Everests.

“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 a paper appearing in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. “The particles we detected are miniscule, far smaller than the width of a hair, but each one would contain stacks of millions of buckyballs.”


Buckyballs, the space kind, were first discovered in 2010 by the Spitzer but in all of the times that they have been found they were in the form of gas but this discovery of a more solid version suggests to scientists that large quantities of the particles that make them up must be present in some stellar environments in order for them to link up and form solid particles.

You gotta love science man, only they could come up with the term buckyballs.

image courtesy of JPL NASA