The destruction of complex matter is not the only process that takes place near aging stars: synthesis of new compounds is another possibility to explore.
A group of astrophysicists from the University of Arizona recreated the conditions for carbon atoms in deep space, proving that spherical molecules called buckyballs can be created in distant galaxies. These findings were published in Astrophysical Journal Letters.
Buckyballs are three-dimensional nanostructures made out of 60 or 70 carbon atoms. Their existence was theoretically proven in the early 1970s. By the mid-80s, a group of scientists managed to extract buckyballs from graphite. In 1996, they were awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry for these findings.
In 2010, buckyballs were discovered in space in the form of gas. However, some experts doubted that these were really buckyballs, claiming they could be regular carbon clusters.
The new study proves that dying stars can create the right conditions for synthesizing complex compounds. According to past studies, the environments around these stars were more conducive to destructive processes.
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