According to investigators at the University of California in Berkeley (UCB), it would appear that studying the 2d carbon compound graphene might help us get a better understanding of what went on during the Big Bang. This was the event that “exploded” the Universe into being.
At the same time, the material might provide clues as to the phenomena that go on inside the event horizon of supermassive black holes. These structures power up the cores of all massive galaxies.
In other words, graphene may come in handy when analyzing regions of space or singularities where massive gravitational fields interact to produce complex effects. Interestingly, astronomical studies indicate that graphene may exist in space in its 2D form.
Just this week, a group of investigators operating the NASA Spitzer Space Telescope, which surveys the sky in infrared wavelengths, reported the discovery of C70 fullerene (buckyball) molecules outside our own galaxy.
The researchers also said that the infrared data the observatory provided may be indicative to the existence of the planar C24 in space. What this means is that the telescope may have also observed pieces of graphene floating freely in deep space.
Fullerenes (C60 and C70) and graphene (planar C24) in space may be formed when old stars produce intense winds that collide with planetary nebulae. This proposal comes from Letizia Stanghellini and Richard Shaw, who both work at the National Optical Astronomy Observatory, in Tucson, Arizona.
“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, quoted by Daily Galaxy
The international team that conducted the new investigation was led by Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias (IAC) expert Domingo Anibal Garcia-Hernandez, and included astronomers and biochemists.
“The Spitzer Space Telescope has been amazingly important for studying complex organic molecules in stellar environments. We are now at the stage of not only detecting fullerenes and other molecules, but starting to understand how they form and evolve in stars,” Shaw goes on to say.
“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,” he concludes.