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First astrophysical detection of the helium hydride ion (HeH + )

  • During the dawn of chemistry1,2 when the temperature of the young Universe had fallen below ~4000 K, the ions of the light elements produced in Big Bang nucleosynthesis recombined in reverse order of their ionization potential. With its higher ionization potentials, He++ (54.5 eV) and He+ (24.6 eV) combined first with free electrons to form the first neutral atom, prior to the recombination of hydrogen (13.6 eV). At that time, in this metal-free and low-density environment, neutral helium atoms formed the Universe’s first molecular bond in the helium hydride ion HeH+, by radiative association with protons (He + H+ → HeH+ + hν). As recombination progressed, the destruction of HeH+ (HeH+ + H → He + H2 +) created a first path to the formation of molecular hydrogen, marking the beginning of the Molecular Age.

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Document Type:Preprint
Author:Rolf Güsten, Helmut Wiesemeyer, David Neufeld, Karl M. Menten, Urs U. Graf, Karl Jacobs, Bernd Klein, Oliver Ricken, Christophe Risacher, Jürgen Stutzki
ArXiv Id:http://arxiv.org/abs/1904.09581
Date of first publication:2019/04/21
Submission status:published in Nature 568, pages 357–359 (2019)
Departments, institutes and facilities:Fachbereich Elektrotechnik, Maschinenbau, Technikjournalismus
Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC):5 Naturwissenschaften und Mathematik / 52 Astronomie / 520 Astronomie und zugeordnete Wissenschaften
Entry in this database:2019/05/09