Menu
Scientific revolution
Water Flowing On Mars, NASA Spacecraft Data Suggest

Light Shed On South Pole Dinosaurs

Why Plant 'Clones' Aren't Identical

Puffins 'Scout Out' Best Migration Route

New Conducting Properties Discovered in Bacteria-Produced Wires

Researchers Unravel the Magic of Flocks of Starlings

'Paranoia' About Rivals Alters Insect Mating Behavior

Billion-Year-Old Piece of North America Traced Back to Antarctica

You Can Count On This: Math Ability Is Inborn, New Research Suggests

Scientist Develops Virus That Targets HIV: Using a Virus to Kill a Virus

DNA Building Blocks Can Be Made in Space, NASA Evidence Suggests

Polar Dinosaur Tracks Open New Trail to Past

New Eruption Discovered at Undersea Volcano, After Successfully Forecasting the Event

Study Builds On Plausible Scenario for Origin of Life On Earth

Scientists Have New Help Finding Their Way Around Brain's Nooks and Crannies

Astronomy: A Spectacular Spiral in Leo

Hydrogen-Powered Symbiotic Bacteria Found in Deep-Sea Hydrothermal Vent Mussels

Deep Recycling in Earth Faster Than Thought

Engineers Reverse E. Coli Metabolism for Quick Production of Fuels, Chemicals

Genetically Modified 'Serial Killer' T-Cells Obliterate Tumors in Leukemia Patients

Biodiversity Key to Earth's Life-Support Functions in a Changing World

Darkest Known Exoplanet: Alien World Is Blacker Than Coal

Arctic Ice Melt Could Pause for Several Years, Then Resume Again

Like Humans, Chimps Are Born With Immature Forebrains

Decade-Long Study Reveals Recurring Patterns of Viruses in the Open Ocean

Honeycomb Carbon Crystals Possibly Detected in Space
NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has spotted the signature of flat carbon flakes, called graphene, in space. If confirmed, this would be the first-ever cosmic detection of the material -- which is arranged like chicken wire in flat sheets that are one atom thick.

Graphene was first synthesized in a lab in 2004, and subsequent research on its unique properties garnered the Nobel Prize in 2010. It's as strong as it is thin, and conducts electricity as well as copper. Some think it's the "material of the future," with applications in computers, screens on electrical devices, solar panels and more.

Graphene in space isn't going to result in any super-fast computers, but researchers are interested in learning more about how it is created. Understanding chemical reactions involving carbon in space may hold clues to how our own carbon-based selves and other life on Earth developed.

Spitzer identified signs of the graphene in two small galaxies outside of our own, called the Magellanic Clouds, specifically in the material shed by dying stars, called planetary nebulae. The infrared-sensing telescope also spotted a related molecule, called C70, in the same region -- marking the first detection of this chemical outside our galaxy.

C70 and graphene belong to the fullerene family, which includes molecules called "buckyballs," or C60. These carbon spheres contain 60 carbon atoms arranged like a soccer ball, and were named after their resemblance to the architectural domes of Buckminister Fuller. C70 molecules contain 70 carbon atoms and are longer in shape, more like a rugby ball.

Fullerenes have been found in meteorites carrying extraterrestrial gases, and water has been very recently encapsulated in buckyballs by using new laboratory techniques. These findings suggest fullerenes may have helped transport materials from space to Earth long ago, possibly helping to kick-start life.

Spitzer definitively detected both buckyballs and C70 in space for the first time in July 2010. It later spotted buckyballs -- equivalent in mass to 15 full moons -- in the Small Magellanic Cloud. These latter results demonstrated that, contrary to what was previously believed, fullerenes and other complex molecules could form in hydrogen-rich environments.

According to astronomers, the graphene, buckyballs and C70 might be forming when shock waves generated by dying stars break apart hydrogen-containing carbon grains.

The team that performed the Spitzer research is led by Domingo Aníbal García-Hernández of the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias in Spain. The results appear in the Astrophysical Journal Letters. García-Hernández is also the lead author of the study that used Spitzer to detect heaps of buckyballs in the Small Magellanic Cloud.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., manages the Spitzer Space Telescope mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Science operations are conducted at the Spitzer Science Center at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. Caltech manages JPL for NASA. For more information about Spitzer, visit http://spitzer.caltech.edu/ and http://www.nasa.gov/spitzer .

Для печати

Polar Ice Caps Can Recover from Warmer Climate-Induced Melting, Study Shows

Sniffer Dogs Can Be Used to Detect Lung Cancer, Research Suggests

Further, Faster, Higher: Wildlife Responds Increasingly Rapidly to Climate Change

Simple Way to Grow Muscle Tissue With Real Muscle Structure

Parasite Uses the Power of Attraction to Trick Rats Into Becoming Cat Food

Growth of Cities Endangers Global Environment, According to New Analysis

Common Cause of All Forms of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Discovered

Oldest Fossils On Earth Discovered

Plants and Fungi Play the 'Underground Market'

Galaxies Are Running out of Gas: Why the Lights Are Going out in the Universe

Antennas in Your Clothes? New Design Could Pave the Way

Astronomers Find Ice and Possibly Methane On Snow White, a Distant Dwarf Planet

Yeast's Epic Journey 500 Years Ago Gave Rise to Lager Beer


Menu
Smart Skin: Electronics That Stick and Stretch Like a Temporary Tattoo

Supernovae Parents Found: Clear Signatures of Gas Outflows from Stellar Ancestors

Hidden Soil Fungus, Now Revealed, Is in a Class All Its Own

Effortless Sailing With Fluid Flow Cloak

Research Reveals Genetic Link to Human Intelligence

Hidden Baja Undersea Park Is the World's Most Robust Marine Reserve

Searching for Spin Liquids: Much-Sought Exotic Quantum State of Matter Can Exist

How Butterflies Copy Their Neighbors to Fool Birds

Increased Tropical Forest Growth Could Release Carbon from the Soil

Fruit Bats Navigate With Internal Maps: Scientists Fit Bats With World's Smallest GPS Devices

Rapid Evolution Within Single Crop-Growing Season Increases Insect Pest Numbers

E. Coli, Salmonella May Lurk in Unwashable Places in Produce

Biologists Confirm Sunflower Domesticated in Eastern North America

Oldest Evidence of Nails in Modern Primates

Breathing New Life Into Earth: Evidence of Early Oxygen in the Oceans of Our Planet

Key Mechanism That Regulates Shape and Growth of Plants Discovered

Speaking and Understanding Speech Share the Same Parts of the Brain

Quantum Optical Link Sets New Time Records

It's a Small World, After All: Earth Is Not Expanding, NASA Research Confirms

Honeycomb Carbon Crystals Possibly Detected in Space

AIDS Researchers Isolate New Potent and Broadly Effective Antibodies Against HIV

Getting Inside the Mind (and Up the Nose) of Our Ancient Ancestors

Physicists Undo the 'Coffee Ring Effect'

Moon Younger Than Previously Thought, Analysis of Lunar Rock Reveals

Human Pathogen Killing Corals in the Florida Keys