Finding these complex carbon molecules in space is one step towards a more complete catalogue of the matter in the Interstellar Medium.
“The diffuse ISM was historically considered too harsh and tenuous an environment for appreciable abundances of large molecules to occur,” said lead author Cordiner in a press release.
Since life is based on carbon-bearing molecules, finding complex carbon molecules like C60+ in space is an intriguing discovery.
“The presence of C unequivocally demonstrates a high level of chemical complexity intrinsic to space environments, and points toward a strong likelihood for other extremely complex, carbon-bearing molecules arising spontaneously in space.”
“Together, the appearance of the DIBs indicate the presence of a large amount of carbon-rich molecules in space, some of which may eventually participate in the chemistry that gives rise to life.
The team behind this new research compared C60+ absorption patterns in the laboratory with DIBs that the Hubble observed in the Interstellar Medium.
To find out, more laboratory work is required with other complex carbon molecules, to identify their DIBs so they can be matched with future observations of the ISM.