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.
They got their name because of their resemblance to the geodesic domes of the architect Buckminster Fuller.
So far, they’ve only been found in gas form in space. In 2010, astronomers using the Spitzer space telescope found the balls in a planetary nebula called Tc 1.
But with this latest discovery, again using data from NASA’s Spitzer space telescope, astronomers found particles consisting of stacked buckyballs. They had stacked together like oranges in a crate to form a solid shape.