Deuterium in Comet C/1995 01 (Hale-Bopp): Detection of DCN

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Abstract

Deuterated hydrogen cyanide (DCN) was detected in a comet, C/1995 01 (Hale-Bopp), with the use of the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope on Mauna Kea, Hawaii. The inferred deuterium/hydrogen (D/H) ratio in hydrogen cyanide (HCN) is (D/H)HCN = (2.3 +/- 0.4) x 10-3. This ratio is higher than the D/H ratio found in cometary water and supports the interstellar origin of cometary ices. The observed values of D/H in water and HCN imply a kinetic temperature > or = to 30 +/- 10 K in the fragment of interstellar cloud that formed the solar system.

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