A Determination of the HDO/H2O Ratio in Comet C/1995 O1 (Hale-Bopp)

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Science  06 Feb 1998:
Vol. 279, Issue 5352, pp. 842-844
DOI: 10.1126/science.279.5352.842

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Deuterated water (HDO) was detected in comet C/1995 O1 (Hale-Bopp) with the use of the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope on Mauna Kea, Hawaii. The inferred D/H ratio in Hale-Bopp's water is (3.3 ± 0.8) × 10−4. This result is consistent with in situ measurements of comet P/Halley and the value found in C/1996 B2 (Hyakutake). This D/H ratio, higher than that in terrestrial water and more than 10 times the value for protosolar H2, implies that comets cannot be the only source for the oceans on Earth.

  • * Visiting astronomer at the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope, 660 North A'Ohoku Place, Hilo, HI 96720, USA.

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