Scientists could have simply tracked down the supply of some mysterious infrared glows detected emanating from stars and clouds of interstellar mud and fuel.

These Unidentified Infrared Emission (UIE) bands have baffled scientists for many years; in line with a theoretical new work, at the least a few of these bands may be produced by extremely ionized buckminsterfullerene, extra generally often known as buckyballs.


“I’m extraordinarily honored to have performed a component within the astonishingly advanced quantum chemistry investigations undertaken by Dr Sadjadi which have led to those very thrilling outcomes,” stated astrophysicist Quentin Parker of Hong Kong College’s Laboratory for House Analysis.

“They concern first the theoretical proof that Fullerene – Carbon 60 – can survive to very excessive ranges of ionization, and now this work exhibits the infrared emission signatures from such species are a wonderful match for among the most outstanding Unidentified Infrared Emission options identified. This could assist re-invigorate this space of analysis.”

Buckminsterfullerene (C60) is a molecule consisting of 60 carbon atoms organized within the form of a soccer ball or soccer. Right here on Earth, it may be discovered naturally in soot, the carbon residue left behind by the burning of natural matter.

In house, the molecule was solely positively detected lately: in 2010, it was detected in a nebula, in 2012, it was discovered within the fuel round a star, and in 2019, it was discovered within the tenuous fuel that drifts within the ’empty’ house between the celebs.


It isn’t clear precisely how the buckyballs get there, though current analysis means that they (like fairly a number of different issues) are solid by dying stars. Since they’re there, although, scientists have been fascinated to probe its properties, and what can occur to it within the huge huge Universe.

Beforehand, Parker and his colleague, astrophysicist SeyedAbdolreza Sadjadi, additionally of the Laboratory for House Analysis, confirmed that buckyballs can take fairly a beating from the cruel situations of house.

Particularly, they’ll turn into extremely ionized – the method of including or eradicating electrons. As much as 26 electrons may be subtracted from a buckyball earlier than it collapses.

What that analysis did not cowl was the modifications that stage of ionization would wreak on the sunshine emitted by the buckyballs. Sadjadi, Parker and their colleagues Chih-Hao Hsia and Yong Zhang, each additionally affiliated with the Laboratory for House Analysis, got down to examine.

They carried out a sequence of quantum chemical calculations to find out the wavelengths during which these molecules could be seen.

Then, they in contrast their findings to infrared observations of six objects, together with stars and nebulae. The outcomes, stated the researchers, are each attention-grabbing and provocative.


The staff discovered that ionized buckyballs are prone to emit mid-infrared mild at among the key wavelengths related to UIE – at 11.21, 16.40, and 20-21 micrometers.

Much more pertinently, the emission of buckyballs with 1 to six electrons eliminated may be very simply distinguished from the infrared emission of one other kind of carbon molecule, polycyclic fragrant hydrocarbons, or PAHs, that are related to the 6.2-micrometer band.

Since PAHs are one other candidate provider of UIE, because of this not solely are buckyballs a robust candidate, however they are often simply distinguished from different potential carriers.

The staff believes that this analysis presents a robust case for future observations within the mid-infrared wavelength vary to assist observe down and determine the UIE related to ionized buckminsterfullerene.

“In our first paper we confirmed theoretically that extremely ionized fullerenes can exist and survive the cruel and chaotic surroundings of house. It’s like asking how a lot air you’ll be able to push out of a soccer ball and the ball nonetheless maintains its form,” Sadjadi stated.

“On this paper we labored with two different main astrophysicists and planetary scientists … to find out the molecular vibrational notes of a celestial symphony, i.e., the spectral options that these ionized buckyballs would play/produce. We then hunted for them in house exhibiting their notes/signatures are simply distinguishable from PAHs.”

The analysis has been revealed in The Astrophysical Journal.


By 24H

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