Detection of C3 in the Circumstellar Shell of IRC+10216

Science  09 Sep 1988:
Vol. 241, Issue 4871, pp. 1319-1322
DOI: 10.1126/science.241.4871.1319


Vibration-rotation lines of C3 have been identified in the circumstellar spectrum of the obscured carbon star IRC+10216. This molecule is of interest in both the chemistry of flames, where it may be involved in the formation of soot, and in astrophysics, where it is a potential building block for carbonaceous grains. This high-resolution infrared detection of the pure carbon chain molecule C3 allows the estimation of the equilibrium C-C bond length, 1.297 angstroms. Possible astrophysical formation and destruction mechanisms for C3 are reviewed, including the relationship between C3 and carbon clusters.