Detection of C60 and C70 in a Young Planetary Nebula
In recent decades, a number of molecules and diverse dust features have been identified by astronomical observations in various environments. Most of the dust that determines the physical and chemical characteristics of the interstellar medium is formed in the outflows of asymptotic giant branch stars and is further processed when these objects become planetary nebulae. We studied the environment of Tc 1, a peculiar planetary nebula whose infrared spectrum shows emission from cold and neutral C60 and C70. The two molecules amount to a few percent of the available cosmic carbon in this region. This finding indicates that if the conditions are right, fullerenes can and do form efficiently in space.