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The molecules that are shaped liked footballs get their names as they are formed by an arrangement of 60 carbon atoms. The ISM is the collection of gas and dust that separates our Solar System from other star systems. As CNN reports, the elements that form the ISM are crucial in the formation of stars and planetary bodies as they are pulled together to create the new celestial objects.

Martin Cordiner of the Catholic University of America’s Physics Department said: “The diffuse ISM can be considered as the starting point for the chemical processes that ultimately give rise to planets and life, so fully identifying its contents provides information on the ingredients available to create stars and planets.”

The molecules form a carbon known as Buckminsterfullerene or Buckyballs.

The name was chosen after American architect Buckminster Fuller, the 60 atoms form a football shape with a carbon atom at each corner of the 20 hexagons and 12 pentagons that make it up, each atom has three bonds.

The molecules are sometimes found in rocks or mineral on Earth but this is rare.

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The molecules have been found in space before, but never before in ISM.

The electrical charge occurs when an electron is hit by ultraviolet light from nearby stars.

Mr Cordiner said: “The diffuse ISM was historically considered too harsh and tenuous an environment for appreciable abundances of large molecules to occur.”

He also noted that “life can be thought of as the ultimate in chemical complexity”.

Indeed, life as we know with current data and information is carbon-based and this discovery shows carbon can be created and survive in harsh environments in space.

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The ISM is difficult to study as the closest example of it is far away from Earth.

The first time an artificial object from Earth reached one of these regions in space was only in August 2012 by the Voyager 1 probe, which was launched in September 1977.

Voyager 2 which left Earth 16 days earlier towards the end of August that year, only entered the ISM seven months ago.



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