has at last found buckyballs in space, as illustrated by this artist's conception showing the carbon balls coming out from the type of object where they were discovered --
a dying star and the material it sheds, known as a planetary nebula.
Buckyballs are made up of 60 carbon atoms organized into spherical structures that resemble soccer balls. They also look like Buckminister Fuller's architectural domes, hence their official name of buckministerfullerenes. The molecules were first concocted in a lab nearly 25 years ago, and were theorized at that time to be floating around carbon-rich stars in space.
But it wasn't until now that Spitzer, using its sensitive infrared vision, was able to find convincing signs of buckyballs.
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech - Hubble image credit: NASA, ESA, STScI