Spaceballs 2: The Sequel

I wrote previously about a paper on the detection of fullerenes in the planetary nebula Tc1… And I mentioned then that there was more than one group of researchers working on much the same thing. The other group have now published their paper, C60 in Reflection Nebulae, on arXiv. It’s currently in press, to be published in Astrophysical Journal letters. Suddenly, fullerenes are serious business.

I’m not going to write about it in depth right now; I’m simply going to point out one rather exciting thing. This paper concerns the reflection nebula NGC 7023, also known as the Iris Nebula. Reflection nebulae are exactly what their name implies. A huge cloud of interstellar gas and dust is visible because it’s actually reflecting starlight (they tend to appear blue because blue light reflects and scatters off nebula material much more than red). The fact that these fullerenes are visible in this nebula means that they are truly interstellar. So within a short space of time, the presence of fullerenes has been confirmed in both interstellar and circumstellar material. I have to wonder what the full implications might be…

About Invader Xan

Molecular astrophysicist, usually found writing frenziedly, staring at the sky, or drinking mojitos.
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