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Is there now at long last some plausible theoretical basis for the molecular origins and carriers of at least some of the most prominent so-called 'UIE' (Unidentified Infrared Emission) bands that have mystified astronomers for decades?

The theoretical astrophysicists and astrochemists at the Laboratory for Space Research (LSR) and Department of Physics at The University of Hong Kong (HKU) seem to think so (at least in theory) in a peer-reviewed paper just published in The Astrophysical Journal.

A team led by Dr SeyedAbdolreza Sadjadi, member of the LSR, and Professor Quentin Parker, Director of the LSR in the Department of Physics, has now placed some interesting theoretical work into the mix. It identifies highly ionised species of the famous soccer ball-shaped 'Buckminsterfullerene' C60 molecule as plausible carriers of at least some of the most prominent and enigmatic UIE bands that have challenged astronomers since they were first discovered and studied over 30 years ago.

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