The formation of cosmic fullerenes from arophatic clusters

Micelotta, Elisabetta R.; Jones, Anthony P.; Cami, Jan; Peeters, Els; Bernard-Salas, Jeronimo and Fanchini, Giovanni (2012). The formation of cosmic fullerenes from arophatic clusters. Astrophysical Journal, 761(1), article no. 35.



Fullerenes have recently been identified in space and they may play a significant role in the gas and dust budget of various astrophysical objects including planetary nebulae (PNe), reflection nebulae, and H II regions. The tenuous nature of the gas in these environments precludes the formation of fullerene materials following known vaporization or combustion synthesis routes even on astronomical timescales. We have studied the processing of hydrogenated amorphous carbon (a-C:H or HAC) nanoparticles and their specific derivative structures, which we name "arophatics," in the circumstellar environments of young, carbon-rich PNe. We find that UV-irradiation of such particles can result in the formation of fullerenes, consistent with the known physical conditions in PNe and with available timescales.

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