Buckyballs and carbon nanotubes can form in supernova explosions

Buckyballs and carbon nanotubes are molecules in which carbon atoms combine into a strong crystal lattice. According to scientists, they can be formed during a supernova explosion.

Buckyballs in space. Source: NASA

Buckyballs and carbon nanotubes in outer space

Scientists from the University of Arizona have proved that very large molecules consisting of pure carbon can be present in outer space. They are formed as a result of a supernova explosion. We are talking about buckyballs and carbon nanotubes.

People learned about the existence of these two forms of carbon several decades ago. Both of them are modifications of graphene. Buckyballs are spheres consisting of 60-70 carbon atoms combined in a lattice. Nanotubes are flat sheets twisted into cylinders. On Earth, both are proposed to be used in numerous new technologies.

Buckyball molecule. Source: Wikipedia

How large carbon molecules are formed in space

According to scientists, nanotubes and buckyballs are formed in space in a completely different way than in our laboratories. The interstellar medium near supernovae is enriched with hydrogen. And according to the researchers, under such conditions, hydrocarbons, including those that are precursors of life, will be formed rather than pure carbon molecules.

Nevertheless, spectroscopic studies in the infrared spectrum indicate that there are buckyballs in the interstellar medium. Silicon helped solve the mystery of their formation. In the form of dust, it is present in large quantities in supernova emissions. 

According to the theory developed by the researchers, it is silicon that acts as a catalyst for the formation of buckyballs. Under conditions when shock waves and high-energy particles heat the medium and depress it more dense, carbon atoms around silicon begin to combine with their own kind, forming a crystal lattice.

According to phys.org

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