The presence of C60+ in space

John P. Maier, Ewen K. Campbell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Experiments in mass spectrometry carried out during the 1980s led to the discovery of the fullerenes. The underlying aim behind these was to understand the formation of carbon chains identified in the interstellar medium some years earlier by radioastronomy. The stability of the discovered C60 cage structure led immediately to speculation concerning its role in the context of the diffuse interstellar bands, a set of several hundred optical absorptions observed in the spectrum of reddened star light. The identities of the molecular carriers responsible for these have remained elusive for a century. In 2015, laboratory measurements carried out using a cryogenic ion trap led to the confirmation that is responsible for two of the unidentified absorption bands, providing the first clue as to their origin. In this contribution we focus on the experiments that led to this identification. The consequences of this and for other molecules present in such environments is discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)116-122
JournalInternational Journal of Mass Spectrometry
Early online date17 Sep 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2018


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