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The diffuse ISM was historically considered too harsh and tenuous an environment for appreciable abundances of large molecules to occur, prior to the detection of C60, the largest known molecules in space were only 12 atoms in size. Our confirmation of C60 + shows just how complex astrochemistry can get, even in the lowest density, most strongly ultraviolet-irradiated environments in the Galaxy.
In some ways, life can be thought of as the ultimate in chemical complexity, the presence of C60 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.
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