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Detection of a Noble Gas Molecular Ion, <sup>36</sup>ArH<sup>+</sup>, in the Crab Nebula

Detection of a Noble Gas Molecular Ion, 36ArH+, in the Crab Nebula

Publication date: 13 December 2013

Authors: Barlow, M. et al.

Journal: Science
Volume: 342
Issue: 6164
Page: 1343-1345
Year: 2013

Copyright: AAAS

Noble gas molecules have not hitherto been detected in space. From spectra obtained with the Herschel Space Observatory, we report the detection of emission in the 617.5- and 1234.6-gigahertz J=1-0 and 2-1 rotational lines of 36ArH+ at several positions in the Crab Nebula, a supernova remnant known to contain both molecular hydrogen and regions of enhanced ionized argon emission. Argon-36 is believed to have originated from explosive nucleosynthesis in massive stars during core-collapse supernova events. Its detection in the Crab Nebula, the product of such a supernova event, confirms this expectation. The likely excitation mechanism for the observed 36Ar emission lines is electron collisions in partially ionized regions with electron densities of a few hundred per centimeter cubed.

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