List of interstellar and circumstellar molecules

List Of Interstellar And Circumstellar Molecules

List of interstellar and circumstellar molecules

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<onlyinclude><!-- See Featured_lists#Proposed_change_to_all_featured_lists for an explanation of this and other inclusion tags below -->This is a list of molecules that have been detected in the interstellar medium and circumstellar envelopes, grouped by the number of component atoms. The chemical formula is listed for each detected compound, along with any ionized form that has also been observed.</onlyinclude>


The molecules listed below were detected by spectroscopy. Their spectral features are generated by transitions of component electrons between different energy levels, or by rotational or vibrational spectra. Detection usually occurs in radio, microwave, or infrared portions of the spectrum. The first such molecule to be detected in the interstellar medium was the methylidyne radical (CH) in 1937.

Interstellar molecules are formed by chemical reactions within very sparse interstellar or circumstellar clouds of dust and gas. Usually this occurs when a molecule becomes ionized, often as the result of an interaction with a cosmic ray. This positively-charged molecule then draws in a nearby reactant by electrostatic attraction of the neutral molecule's electrons. Molecules can also be generated by reactions between neutral atoms and molecules, although this process is generally slower. The dust plays a critical role of shielding the molecules from the ionizing effect of...
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