Water on the Sun: Molecules Everywhere

Science  18 Jul 1997:
Vol. 277, Issue 5324, pp. 328-329
DOI: 10.1126/science.277.5324.328

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Takeshi Oka In 1995, water was found to exist on the sun when infrared absorption bands in sun spots were analyzed [Science 268, 1155 (1995)]. In his Perspective, Oka discusses new results in the same issue by Polyansky et al. on computational analysis of the spectrum of hot water. The computer calculations confirm the assignment of the infrared spectrum as arising from water, and reveal some interesting new features about the water spectrum. As more powerful computers become available, it may be possible to eventually perform full quantum mechanical calculations of large polyatomic molecules.