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Quantum-state–selective electron recombination studies suggest enhanced abundance of primordial HeH+

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Science  16 Aug 2019:
Vol. 365, Issue 6454, pp. 676-679
DOI: 10.1126/science.aax5921

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Enhanced abundance of primordial HeH+

Though only recently detected in space, the helium hydride ion (HeH+) is thought to be the first molecule ever to have formed in the early Universe. Novotný et al. report state-specific rate coefficients for the dissociative reaction of HeH+ with electrons, obtained using a cryogenic ion storage ring combined with a merged electron beam (see the Perspective by Bovino and Galli). They detect substantial rotational dependence and a decrease of the rates for the lowest states of HeH+, far below the values listed in astrochemistry databases and those previously applied in early-Universe models. These results suggest high abundance of this important primordial molecule at redshifts of first star and galaxy formation.

Science, this issue p. 676; see also p. 639

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