- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 27, 2010

PASADENA, CALIF. (AP) - A soccer ball-shaped carbon molecule that some scientists think may have helped seed life on Earth is more common in the universe than initially believed.

Using NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, researchers spotted the carbon spheres known as ‘buckyballs’ around three dying sun-like stars in the Milky Way and in the space between stars. The telescope also detected the cosmic balls floating around a dying star in a nearby galaxy.

The telescope previously found buckyballs only in one location in space.

The new findings appear online Thursday in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Scientists hope to better understand the role buckyballs play in the birth and death of stars and planets.

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