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Prototype molecules for interstellar chemistry



A likely interstellar molecule has been detected and analysed.   

Mitsunori Araki and co-workers, at the University of Basel in Switzerland, produced trans-C6H4+, a non-linear carbon chain, from acetylene. The high energy molecule probably exists in diffuse interstellar clouds. By comparing its spectrum with astronomical observations, this work might allow concentrations of interstellar trans-C6H4+ to be estimated. 

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© NASA

Araki wants to improve understanding about organic molecules that exist on earth as chemical intermediates and also in interstellar clouds. Trans-C6H4+ is a relatively simple molecule and further prototypical systems are the next goal: they will include molecules containing N, S and O atoms, as well as those with 
very long carbon chains (20-30 atoms).   

Interstellar spectra contain contributions from many different molecules. 'Assignment of the diffuse interstellar bands is one of the most interesting and challenging targets in the field of gas phase spectroscopy and astrochemistry,' said Araki. 

Robin Forder 

References

M Araki et alPhys. Chem. Chem Phys., 2005 (DOI: 10.1039/b500052a)