ASTROCHEMISTRY

Diffuse interstellar bands in the lab

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Science  04 Sep 2015:
Vol. 349, Issue 6252, pp. 1067-1068
DOI: 10.1126/science.349.6252.1067-f

The diffuse interstellar bands (DIBs) are a set of hundreds of broad optical/near-infrared absorption features seen throughout the interstellar medium. Despite the first DIBs being discovered as long ago as 1922, none of the bands has ever been convincingly identified with a particular chemical species. Now Campbell et al. have obtained gas-phase lab spectroscopy of the buckminsterfullerene ion C60+ that matches two of the known DIBs, finally confirming a tentative assignment made in 1994. This is the first conclusive identification of a DIB carrier and demonstrates that fullerenes are widely distributed in space.

Nature 523, 322 (2015).

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