The diffuse interstellar bands: A long-running mystery

PHYS 41

Benjamin J. McCall, bjmccall@uiuc.edu, Departments of Chemistry and Astronomy, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 600 S. Mathews Avenue, Urbana, IL 61801
The Diffuse Interstellar Bands (DIBs) are a set of hundreds of absorption lines seen in the visible spectra of nearly all stars toward which there is interstellar material. The first of these bands were discovered in 1919, but so far the identities of the molecules responsible for these bands remain a mystery -- perhaps the longest-running mystery in all of spectroscopy!

A recent survey of the DIBs at the Apache Point Observatory has yielded a uniform sample of DIB spectra with high signal-to-noise ratios. One early result from this survey has been the identification of a set of DIBs that are related to C2. We have also identified one pair of DIBs that are so well correlated that they may be caused by the same molecule. In this talk, I will review the history of the DIBs, and highlight some recent results that may shed some light on this enigma.

 

Molecules in Space
1:20 PM-5:00 PM, Sunday, 26 March 2006 Georgia World Congress Center -- A402, Oral

Division of Physical Chemistry

The 231st ACS National Meeting, Atlanta, GA, March 26-30, 2006