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Waspie_Dwarf

Soccer Balls in Interstellar Space

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Soccer Balls in Interstellar Space

An international team of astronomers led by Masaaki Otsuka (Academia Sinica Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics or ASIAA) has detected the C60 fullerene (molecules of carbon with 60 atoms arranged in patterns resembling a soccer ball) in the dying star M1-11. Data from the Subaru Telescope, the Spitzer Space Telescope (SST), the Very Large Telescope (VLT), the 1.88 m telescope at the Okayama Astrophysical Observatory (OAO), and the Japanese infrared astronomy satellite AKARI all contributed to this finding, which takes scientists closer to understanding the prevalence and formation of C60 in space.

Interstellar space is teeming with solid, minute particles called "dust", a large fraction of which are rich in carbon that was formed in the cores of solar-type stars. When dust grains are ejected into interstellar space from dying stars, they are catalysts for the formation of the next generation of stars. Therefore, an investigation into the amount and composition of the dust produced by dying stars as well as its subsequent return to interstellar space is a crucial step in understanding stellar evolution and the chemical evolution of galaxies.

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