Spectroscopic detection of molecular hydrogen frozen in interstellar ices

Science  15 Oct 1993:
Vol. 262, Issue 5132, pp. 400-402
DOI: 10.1126/science.11542874


A weak infrared absorption feature near 4141 wavenumbers (2.415 micrometers) in the spectrum of WL5, an infrared source in the rho Ophiuchus cloud complex, has been detected. It is attributed to molecular hydrogen created by irradiation and frozen in situ into water-rich ices. A second, broader absorption at 4125 wavenumbers centimeters (2.424 micrometers) is probably due to methanol in the ices. The column densities of frozen molecular hydrogen and methanol are inferred to be about 2.5 x 10(18) and 3.0 x 10(19), respectively. There is about three times more frozen molecular hydrogen than frozen carbon monoxide along this line of sight.