Buckyballs are microscopic spheres, where 60 carbon atoms are arranged — with alternating patterns of hexagons and pentagons — into a football-like pattern. The unusual structure makes them incredibly strong, and ideal candidates for things like superconducting materials, medicines, water purification and armor.
After finding gaseous clouds of buckyballs in space last year, astronomers have now discovered the carbon balls in a solid form, around a pair of stars some 6,500 light-years from Earth.
The research team was able to identify the solid form of buckyballs because they emit light in a unique way that differs from the gaseous form. In all, the team detected enough solid buckyballs to fill the equivalent in volume to 10,000 Mount Everests. Learn more here.