Deuterium in Comet C/1995 O1 (Hale-Bopp): Detection of DCN

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Science  13 Mar 1998:
Vol. 279, Issue 5357, pp. 1707-1710
DOI: 10.1126/science.279.5357.1707

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Deuterated hydrogen cyanide (DCN) was detected in a comet, C/1995 O1 (Hale-Bopp), with the use of the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope on Mauna Kea, Hawaii. The inferred deuterium/hydrogen (D/H) ratio in hydrogen cyanide (HCN) is (D/H)HCN = (2.3 ± 0.4) × 10−3. This ratio is higher than the D/H ratio found in cometary water and supports the interstellar origin of cometary ices. The observed values of D/H in water and HCN imply a kinetic temperature ≥30 ± 10 K in the fragment of interstellar cloud that formed the solar system.

  • * Visiting astronomer at the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope, 600 North A'Ohoku Place, Hilo, HI 96720, USA.

  • To whom correspondence should be addressed: E-mail: meier{at}

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