Diamonds in dense molecular clouds: a challenge to the standard interstellar medium paradigm

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Science  02 Apr 1993:
Vol. 260, Issue 5104, pp. 64-66
DOI: 10.1126/science.11538059


Observations of a newly discovered infrared C-H stretching band indicate that interstellar diamond-like material appears to be characteristic of dense clouds. In sharp contrast, the spectral signature of dust in the diffuse interstellar medium is dominated by -CH2- and -CH3 groups. This dichotomy in the aliphatic organic component between the dense and diffuse media challenges standard assumptions about the processes occurring in, and interactions between, these two media. The ubiquity of this interstellar diamond-like material rules out models for meteoritic diamond formation in unusual circumstellar environments and implies that the formation of the diamond-like material is associated with common interstellar processes or stellar types.