Detection of interstellar hydrogen peroxide
Journal article, 2011
Context. The molecular species hydrogen peroxide, HOOH, is likely to be a key ingredient in the oxygen and water chemistry in the interstellar medium.
Aims. Our aim with this investigation is to determine how abundant HOOH is in the cloud core ρ Oph A.
Methods. By observing several transitions of HOOH in the (sub)millimeter regime we seek to identify the molecule and also to determine the excitation conditions through a multilevel excitation analysis.
Results. We have detected three spectral lines toward the SM1 position of ρ Oph A at velocity-corrected frequencies that coincide very closely with those measured from laboratory spectroscopy of HOOH. A fourth line was detected at the 4σ level. We also found through mapping observations that the HOOH emission extends (about 0.05 pc) over the densest part of the ρ Oph A cloud core. We derive an abundance of HOOH relative to that of H2 in the SM1 core of about 1 × 10-10.
Conclusions. To our knowledge, this is the first reported detection of HOOH in the interstellar medium.