EDP Sciences

Vol. 607
In section 6. Interstellar and circumstellar matter

Search for hydrogen-helium molecular species in space

by E. Zicler, O. Parisel, F. Pauzat, Y. Ellinger, M-C. Bacchus-Montabonel, and J-P. Maillard A&A 607, A61


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The search for helium in molecular form has been a long standing challenge in astrophysics. Searches for HeH+ have repeatedly come up empty-handed although hydrogenated heavier noble gases have been detected in the interstellar medium. This study proposes an alternative candidate,HeH3+, based on the ubiquitous presence of the H3+ ion in cosmic environments. The authors compute the binding energy, vibrational states, and radiative association rates through two channels. They propose that the HeH+ + H2 dominates by more than four orders of magnitude over the He + H3+ under a wide range of temperatures. Thepaper also provides frequencies to aid in the search for this intriguing molecule whose presence may be important in the context of early universe chemistry.