Astronomers have discovered bucket loads of buckyballs in space. They used NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope to find the little carbon spheres throughout our Milky Way galaxy – in the space between stars and around three dying stars. What’s more, Spitzer detected buckyballs around a fourth dying star in a nearby galaxy in staggering quantities – the equivalent in mass to about 15 of our moons.

Buckyballs, also known as fullerenes, are soccer-ball-shaped molecules consisting of 60 linked carbon atoms. They are named for their resemblance to the architect Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic domes, an example of which is found at the entrance to Disney’s Epcot theme park in Orlando, Fla.

The miniature spheres were first discovered in a lab on Earth 25 years ago, but it wasn’t until this past July that Spitzer was able to provide the first confirmed proof of their existence in space.

Spitzer Telescope Finds Space Buckyballs Thrive, 10/28/10

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