Detection of H3+ in the Diffuse Interstellar Medium Toward Cygnus OB2 No. 12

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Science  20 Mar 1998:
Vol. 279, Issue 5358, pp. 1910-1913
DOI: 10.1126/science.279.5358.1910

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The molecular ion H3 + is considered the cornerstone of interstellar chemistry because it initiates the reactions responsible for the production of many larger molecules. Recently discovered in dense molecular clouds, H3 + has now been observed in the diffuse interstellar medium toward Cygnus OB2 No. 12. Analysis of H3 + chemistry suggests that the high H3 + column density (3.8 × 1014 per square centimeter) is due not to a high H3 + concentration but to a long absorption path. This and other work demonstrate the ubiquity of H3 + and its potential as a probe of the physical and chemical conditions in the interstellar medium.

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