Herschel/HIFI discovery of interstellar chloronium (H2Cl+)
Journal article, 2010
We report the first detection of chloronium, H_2Cl^+, in the interstellar medium, using the HIFI instrument aboard the Herschel Space Observatory. The 2_12-1_01 lines of ortho-H\_2^35Cl^+ and ortho-H\_2^37Cl^+ are detected in absorption towards NGC 6334I, and the 1_11-0_00 transition of para-H\_2^35Cl^+ is detected in absorption towards NGC 6334I and Sgr B2(S). The H_2Cl^+ column densities are compared to those of the chemically-related species HCl. The derived HCl/H_2Cl^+ column density ratios, ~1-10, are within the range predicted by models of diffuse and dense photon dominated regions (PDRs). However, the observed H_2Cl^+ column densities, in excess of 10^13 cm^-2, are significantly higher than the model predictions. Our observations demonstrate the outstanding spectroscopic capabilities of HIFI for detecting new interstellar molecules and providing key constraints for astrochemical models.