POLYCYCLIC AROMATIC HYDROCARBONS, which are common on Earth in coal, soot, and automobile exhaust, may be the most abundant class of organic molecules in the universe. PAHs are flat molecules of carbon and hydrogen in the form of hexagons so that their skeleton looks like chicken wire. Research indicates that they may be the molecules responsible for the "diffuse interstellar bands," or DIBs.
Image: FARID SALAMA, NASA-Ames
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