Ref: ASTROimport-918

Interstellar and Circumstellar Fullerenes

Bernard-Salas, J. ; Cami, J. ; Jones, A. ; Peeters, E. ; Micelotta, E. ; Otsuka, M. ; Sloan, G. C. ; Kemper, F. ; Groenewegen, M.

published in Proceedings of The Life Cycle of Dust in the Universe: Observations, Theory, and Laboratory Experiments (LCDU2013). 18-22 November, 2013. Taipei, Taiwan. Editors: Anja Andersen (University of Copenhagen, Denmark), Maarten Baes (Universiteit Gent, Belgium), Haley Gomez (Cardiff University, UK), Ciska Kemper (Academia Sinica, Taiwan), Darach Watson (University of Copenhagen, Denmark). Online at http://pos.sissa.it/cgi-bin/reader/conf.cgi?confid=207, id.32, pp. 32 (2013)

Abstract: Fullerenes are a particularly stable class of carbon molecules in the shape of a hollow sphere or ellipsoid that might be formed in the outflows of carbon stars. Once injected into the interstellar medium (ISM), these stable species survive and are thus likely to be widespread in the Galaxy where they contribute to interstellar extinction, heating processes, and complex chemical reactions. In recent years, the fullerene species C60 (and to a lesser extent C70 ) have been detected in a wide variety of circumstellar and interstellar environments showing that when conditions are favourable, fullerenes are formed efficiently. Fullerenes are the first and only large aromatics firmly identified in space. The detection of fullerenes is thus crucial to provide clues as to the key chemical pathways leading to the formation of large complex organic molecules in space, and offers a great diagnostic tool to describe the environment in which they reside. Since fullerenes share many physical properties with PAHs, understanding how fullerenes form, evolve and respond to their physical environment will yield important insights into one of the largest reservoirs of organic material in space. In spite of all these detections, many questions remain about precisely which members of the fullerene family are present in space, how they form and evolve, and what their excitation mechanism is. We present here an overview of what we know from astronomical observations of fullerenes in these different environments, and discuss current thinking about the excitation process. We highlight the various formation mechanisms that have been proposed, discuss the physical conditions conducive to the formation and/or detection of fullerenes in carbon stars, and their possible connection to PAHs, HACs and other dust features.

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Royal Observatory of Belgium > Astronomy & Astrophysics
Science Articles > Non-refereed Articles

 Record created 2016-07-01, last modified 2016-07-01