Has graphene been detected in space?

Aug 11, 2011
Artist's impression of the graphenes (C24) and fullerenes found in a Planetary Nebula. The detection of graphenes and fullerenes around old stars as common as our Sun suggests that these molecules and other allotropic forms of carbon may be widespread in space. Credits: IAC; original image of the Helix Nebula (NASA, NOAO, ESA, the Hubble Helix Nebula Team, M. Meixner, STScI, & T.A. Rector, NRAO.)

(PhysOrg.com) -- A team of astronomers, using the Spitzer Space Telescope, have reported the first extragalactic detection of the C70 fullerene molecule, and the possible detection of planar C24 ("a piece of graphene") in space. Letizia Stanghellini and Richard Shaw, members of the team at the National Optical Astronomy Observatory in Tucson, Arizona describe how collisional shocks powered by the winds from old stars in planetary nebulae could be responsible for the formation of fullerenes (C60 and C70) and graphene (planar C24). The team is led by Domingo Anibal Garcia-Hernandez of the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias in Spain and includes international astronomers and biochemists.

Planetary nebulae originate from stars similar to our sun that have reached the end of their lives and are shedding shells of gas into space. In this case, the planetary nebulae are located in the Magellanic Clouds, two satellite galaxies to our own Milky Way, that are best seen from the Southern Hemisphere. At the distance of the Magellanic Clouds, planetary nebula appear as small fuzzy blobs. However, unlike planetaries in our own Milky Way Galaxy whose distances are very uncertain, the distance to planetaries in the Magellanic Clouds can be determined to better than 5%. With such accurate distances, the research team determined the true luminosity of the stars and confirmed that the objects are indeed planetary nebulae and not some other object in the astrophysical zoo.

Fullerenes, or Buckyballs, are known from laboratory work on earth, and have many interesting and important properties. Fullerenes consist of carbon atoms arranged in a three dimensional sphere similar to the geodesic domes popularized by Buckminster Fuller. The C70 fullerene can be compared with a rugby ball, while C60 is compared to a soccer ball. Both of these molecules have been detected in the sample. Graphene (planar C24) is a flat sheet of carbon atoms, one atom thick, that has extraordinary strength, conductivity, elasticity and thinness. Cited as the thinnest substance known, graphene was first synthesized in the lab in 2004 by Geim and Novoselov for which they received the 2010 Nobel Prize in physics. "If confirmed with laboratory spectroscopy – something that is almost impossible with the present techniques – this would be the first detection of graphene in space," said team member García-Hernández.

The team has proposed that fullerenes and graphene are formed from the shock-induced (i.e., grain-grain collisions) destruction of hydrogenated amorphous carbon grains (HACs). Such collisions are expected in the stellar winds emanating from planetary nebulae, and this team sees evidence for strong stellar winds in the ultraviolet spectra of these stars. “What is particularly surprising is that the existence of these molecules does not depend on the stellar temperature, but on the strength of the wind shocks” says Stanghellini.

Has graphene been detected in space?
The Large Magellanic Cloud Planetary Nebula SMP48, one of the star systems in the present study. The reason for the name “planetary nebula” is obvious from this image of a planetary nebula, which is much fainter and further away than the first ones seen in our galaxy. Image credit: HST

The Small Magellanic cloud is particularly poor in metals (any element besides hydrogen and helium, in ’ parlance) but this sort of environment favors the evolution of carbon rich-planetary nebulae, which turns out to be a favorable place for complex carbon molecules. The challenge has been to extract the evidence for (planar C24) from Spitzer data. “The has been amazingly important for studying complex organic molecules in stellar environments,” says Stanghellini. “We are now at the stage of not only detecting and other molecules, but starting to understand how they form and evolve in stars.” Shaw adds “We are planning ground-based follow up through the NOAO system of telescopes. We hope to find other molecules in planetary nebulae where fullerene has been detected to test some physical processes that might help us understand the biochemistry of life.”

The accompanying image includes an artist’s conception of these molecules superimposed on the well known Helix Nebula. The smaller image shows one of the objects from this study in which fullerene has been detected in the Large Magellanic Cloud (SMP 48, from the catalog by Sanduleak, MacConnell, & Philip) The name “” was applied to these star systems because their shell of surrounding gas made them appear like the disks of Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus as observed in 18th century telescopes. The reason for this name is obvious from the modern image.

Explore further: Witnessing the early growth of a giant

More information: These results are presented in a paper published by the Astrophysical Journal Letters, Volume 737, Issue 2, article id. L30 (2011) The team includes D. A. García-Hernandez, S. Iglesias-Groth, J. A. Acosta-Pulido, A. Manchado, P. García-Lario, L. Stanghellini, E. Villaver, R. A. Shaw and F. Cataldo

Related Stories

Space buckyballs thrive, finds NASA Spitzer Telescope

Oct 28, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Astronomers have discovered bucket loads of buckyballs in space. They used NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope to find the little carbon spheres throughout our Milky Way galaxy -- in the space ...

Buckyballs... throwing astronomers a curve

Mar 07, 2011

When I first heard about buckyballs a couple of decades ago, I had nothing but the deepest respect for anyone who understood abstract ideas like string theory and branes. After all, how often were you likely ...

Super Planetary Nebulae

Aug 14, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- A team of scientists in Australia and the United States, led by Associate Professor Miroslav Filipović from the University of Western Sydney, have discovered a new class of object which ...

Neighbor galaxy caught stealing stars

Jul 19, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Astronomers from the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO) and their collaborators have found that hundreds of the stars found in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) were stolen from ...

The Colorful Demise of a Sun-Like Star

Feb 13, 2007

This image, taken by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, shows the colorful "last hurrah" of a star like our Sun. The star is ending its life by casting off its outer layers of gas, which formed a cocoon around ...

Recommended for you

Witnessing the early growth of a giant

18 hours ago

Astronomers have uncovered for the first time the earliest stages of a massive galaxy forming in the young Universe. The discovery was made possible through combining observations from the NASA/ESA Hubble ...

Evidence for supernovas near Earth

Aug 27, 2014

Once every 50 years, more or less, a massive star explodes somewhere in the Milky Way. The resulting blast is terrifyingly powerful, pumping out more energy in a split second than the sun emits in a million ...

What lit up the universe?

Aug 27, 2014

New research from UCL shows we will soon uncover the origin of the ultraviolet light that bathes the cosmos, helping scientists understand how galaxies were built.

User comments : 17

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

omatumr
1 / 5 (6) Aug 12, 2011
Thanks for the report.

Diamonds and graphene-like inclusions of meteorites are rich in light elements (H, He, C, N) and in r-products from rapid neutron capture in a supernova explosion.

Claims that these C-rich meteorite inclusions were "interstellar" grains were discredited when the Galileo probe found the same products in Jupiter.

With kind regards,
Oliver K. Manuel
Former NASA Principal
Investigator for Apollo

Ethelred
4.5 / 5 (4) Aug 12, 2011
No one has found an inclusion in Jupiter. Inclusions are SOLIDS and Jupiter only presents gas and condensed droplets for observation.

If you meant that Jupiter had isotopes YOU think shouldn't have been there, well you have never taken an astronomy class so your thoughts on this could rather less then optimal. Since those isotopes in the inclusions are not a case of only existing in the inclusions but are merely a matter of the inclusions being enriched with them there is some of the isotopes in the general chemical makeup of the Solar System. In other words it would be friggin weird it they weren't in the Jovian atmosphere.

Which means the inclusions could very well be pre Solar System. It is the difference in the ratios of the isotopes vs the rest of they Solar System that makes it likely that they are interstellar. Ratios, not absence vs presence.

Ethelred
omatumr
1 / 5 (8) Aug 12, 2011
No, meteorite inclusions were not found in Jupiter

Excess Xe-136 from the r-process was predicted in Jupiter in 1983 [1].

Excess Xe-136 from the r-process was found in Jupiter in 1995 [2].

Isotope data from the Galileo probe of Jupiter were released on 7 Jan 1998, as shown in the video recording that C-SPAN made [3].

Manipulation of science for AGW propaganda is explained here [4].

1. "Solar abundances of the elements", Meteoritics 18, 209-222 (1983)

http://www.omatum...nces.pdf

2. "Strange xenon in Jupiter", J. Radio-analytical & Nuclear Chem 238, 119-121 (1998)

www.omatumr.com/a...ysis.pdf

3. "Scientific Genesis: 5. Global Warming Scam (2011)"

www.youtube.com/w...IFmZpFco

4. The Bilderberg Sun, Climategate and Economic Crisis

http://dl.dropbox...oots.pdf

Ethelred
5 / 5 (3) Aug 12, 2011
No, meteorite inclusions were not found in Jupiter
Then you should have been clear instead of spamming. Nor have you addressed the RATIOS.

Excess Xe-136 from the r-process was predicted in Jupiter in 1983 [1].
Yes, you know perfectly well that I read your papers. What does that have to do with the inclusions. It is the RATIO that was significant.

If you can't see this you really don't have a clue about the formation of the Solar System. No one, well not me anyone or anyone else competent, is claiming that a supernova was involved in the formation of the Solar System.

The evidence you have presented fits ANOTHER sun, not our Sun, being the source of the isotopes. You have never presented evidence that even remotely shows it was our Sun that went bang. Indeed the inclusions make it clear that our Sun was not the source as the Solar System, as a whole, has a different ration of isotopes than the inclusions.

The rest of your post was the usual crap based on fantasy.>>
Ethelred
5 / 5 (3) Aug 12, 2011
Manipulation of science for AGW propaganda is explained here [4].
No, its an insane rant about Mao and Henry Kissinger. Absolutely batshit insane paranoid delusion. You must incredibly desperate to pull up rubbish like that.

Now quit reposting the irrelevant crap and answer please these questions three.

What evidence shows that OUR Sun and not another is the source of the isotopes. Reposting the same stuff that has never answered the question is just spamming the site.

What distinguishes neutron repulsion from the Pauli Exclusion Principle? There should be laboratory evidence please support your claim for the first ever.

What evidence is there for the Sun having an iron mantle? The image you are so found of has only trace iron and shows a dynamo process in action with the currents flowing in hydrogen and helium ions.

Again the usual crap is not an answer. Write something new as the old stuff is the stuff that needs evidence.

Ethelred
Ethelred
5 / 5 (3) Aug 12, 2011
No one, well not me anyone or anyone else competent, is claiming that a supernova was involved in the formation of the Solar System.
Well that was a mess. How about what was in my head this time.

No one, well not me or anyone else competent, is claiming that a supernova was NOT involved in the formation of the Solar System.

Ethelred
omatumr
1 / 5 (5) Aug 13, 2011
No one, well not me or anyone else competent, is claiming that a supernova was NOT involved in the formation of the Solar System.


Thanks, Ethelred, for endorsing a concept that totalitarian science failed to defeat.

The Sun itself exploded five billion years (5 Gyr) ago, ejected the material that now orbits it, and reformed on the pulsar [1-4].

1. "Elemental and isotopic inhomogeneities in noble gases:
The case for local synthesis of the chemical elements",
Transactions Missouri Academy Sciences 9, 104-122 (1975).

2. "Xenon record of the early solar system", Nature 262, 28-32 (1976).

www.nature.com/na...8a0.html

3. "Strange xenon, extinct super-heavy elements, and
the solar neutrino puzzle", Science 195, 208-209 (1977):

www.omatumr.com/a...enon.pdf

4. Proc. Robert Welch Foundation Conference XII. Cosmochemistry, pages 263-272 (1978).

With kind regards,
Oliver K. Manuel
Former NASA Principal
Investigator for Apollo
Ethelred
4.3 / 5 (6) Aug 13, 2011
Thanks, Ethelred, for endorsing a concept that totalitarian science failed to defeat.
Just because you are a petty tyrant that doesn't mean everyone else is. And I did not endorse you. I asked three question that ignored.

The Sun itself exploded five billion years (5 Gyr) ago,
Where is the evidence? That is what I asked for not the umpteenth repetition of the stuff that is in question.

ejected the material that now orbits it, and reformed on the pulsar [1-4].
Rubbish. First there is no reason to assume it was the Sun. Second if the Sun had a pulsar in it then it could NOT form a photosphere as any matter on the top would be degenerate AND the hydrogen would undergo catastrophic fusion.

The case for local synthesis of the chemical element
Which does not make the case for the SUN it makes the case for a supernova. The claim that Sun was supernova is unsupported by the evidence.>>
Ethelred
4.3 / 5 (6) Aug 13, 2011
2. "Xenon record of the early solar system",
Which again doesn't require OUR Sun to be the source. Evasion like this must be straining your brain because you actually claimed I endorsed your ridiculous idea when I asked for evidence for the idea.

the solar neutrino puzzle"
Answered by neutrino oscillation. There is ample evidence for it and considering the exceedingly low and similar masses of all three neutrinos it would odd if they didn't change flavor due to the Uncertainty Principle.

Now how about you actually answer my questions instead of pretending I supported you.

More
Ethelred
4.4 / 5 (7) Aug 13, 2011
Now quit reposting the irrelevant crap and answer please these questions three.

What evidence shows that OUR Sun and not another is the source of the isotopes. Reposting the same stuff that has never answered the question is just spamming the site.

What distinguishes neutron repulsion from the Pauli Exclusion Principle? There should be laboratory evidence please support your claim for the first ever.

What evidence is there for the Sun having an iron mantle? The image you are so found of has only trace iron and shows a dynamo process in action with the currents flowing in hydrogen and helium ions.

Again the usual crap is not an answer. Write something new as the old stuff is the stuff that needs evidence.
See that last bit. NOT THE USUAL CRAP which is what you just posted. The same exact claims that do NOT support your idea that OUR Sun is the source of the isotopes. You evaded all three questions that you should be able to answer, if you were actually right.

Ethelred
Ethelred
5 / 5 (4) Aug 13, 2011
Oliver, I didn't give you those ones till you evaded the question and lied by claiming I was supporting you. I intentionally gave you a chance to answer for once. Instead you lied and evaded. So you earned the ones.

Stick to a reasoned discussion and I won't give you ones. Each time you lie about my position or evade the relevant questions you earn ones. You could say you don't know instead reposting the crap I asking about. Not knowing is reasonable. Reposting the stuff that is in question is not.

Spamming the whole bloody site with nearly identical posts is what is annoying people. Those get ones for being spam. Just like the adds for knock offs.

To give an example Marbaker made her first post in 5 months. Its the usual Creationist hit and crap. However I have yet to rank the post. She has a few days to answer. No answer she gets a one. Idiot answer she gets a one. I am not holding my breath. Heck I might give her a two if she answers even if it is idiotic.

Ethelred
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (5) Aug 13, 2011
Thanks for the report.

Diamonds and graphene-like inclusions of meteorites are rich in light elements (H, He, C, N) and in r-products from rapid neutron capture in a supernova explosion.

Claims that these C-rich meteorite inclusions were "interstellar" grains were discredited when the Galileo probe found the same products in Jupiter.

With kind regards,
Oliver K. Manuel
Former NASA Principal
Investigator for Apollo


Because you wouldn't expect the largest gravity well in the solar system, outside of the Sun, to have a large draw on the meteorites and asteroids entering the solar system providing for a small but non-zero contingent of rare isotopes....

Oh wait, you would.
Techno1
1 / 5 (1) Aug 13, 2011
Why is it that nobody ever seems to discover a chemical or isotope "in space" first, and then find it on earth or in a lab...

It's like they make this stuff up...

"Nothing by 98% Hydrogen out there guys, except in stars and planets..." -100 years worth of astronomy...

Then every time a new chemical is discovered in a lab, a few years later somebody comes around claiming, "Oh wait, it was OUT THERE all along, we just didn't know WTF we were doing!!"

I'd like to see one of these guys use a computer model to PREDICT an un-discovered molecule, and find it in SPACE first, then make it in a lab.

Maybe they should start scanning space for the emission spectra of some of Ralph Merkle's nano-machines. I mean, if there's a Type 2 civilization out there somewhere, then no doubt they'd have nano-technology, and no doubt some of the machines would even be the same as his early concept models.
yyz
5 / 5 (2) Aug 14, 2011
"Why is it that nobody ever seems to discover a chemical or isotope "in space" first, and then find it on earth or in a lab..."

Given the fact that these each chemical compound contains very unique spectroscopic signatures of the substance, wouldn't a thorough, detailed spectroscopic examination of nearby nebulae be the first order of business when trying to find these exotics in the ISM, and compare them with similar, characterized compounds created in a lab.

New discoveries of C60 and possibly graphene in stellar atmospheres show the power of this method.
Ethelred
5 / 5 (2) Aug 14, 2011
Why is it that nobody ever seems to discover a chemical or isotope "in space" first
Why do you think that is true. It isn't.

http://www.chemmy...ium.html

Nothing by 98% Hydrogen out there guys, except in stars and planets
Why did you make that up? It isn't true either. Not even counting Dark Matter.

Hydrogen and helium are estimated to make up roughly 74% and 24% of all baryonic matter in the universe respectively.

http://en.wikiped...Universe

"Oh wait, it was OUT THERE all along, we just didn't know WTF we were doing!!"
Three false statements in a row.

I'd like to see one of these guys use a computer model to PREDICT an un-discovered molecule
First that isn't false. Of course it is silly but it isn't false. If a molecule is simulated in a computer why would you expect it to be found in space before being made in a lab?>>
Ethelred
5 / 5 (2) Aug 14, 2011
some of Ralph Merkle's nano-machines.
Would you care to supply us with a prediction of even one such machine's spectral absorption lines? I would be really impressed. I mean really. Anyone that could pull that off would impress the hell out of me. If it turned out to be correct anyway.

machines would even be the same as his early concept models.
That would be like expecting to find the earliest self-reproducing molecule on Earth. Not likely.

Ethelred
yyz
5 / 5 (1) Aug 14, 2011
As an example of the usefulness and some problems associated with the hunt for interstellar compounds, the following links describe a proposed survey for prebiotic molecules in two areas of the sky known to be rich in these compounds of this type:

http://www.cv.nra...nce.html

http://www.cv.nra...inal.pdf