February 2004


Anthracene is one of the smallest species in the family known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons or PAHs, which consist of interlocking benzenoid rings. Anthracene and pyrene were tentatively detected recently in the Red Rectangle by Witt and coworkers. PAH species or related families are thought to account for unidentified infrared emission bands. PAHs have also been found in some carbonaceous chondrites, a type of stony meteorite.

DISPUTED: About a year after the reported detection of anthracene and pyrene in the Red Rectangle, Nayfeh et al. published a counterclaim that crystalline silicon nanoparticles could be responsible for the observed features instead of PAHs.

UPDATE: Anthracene was identified in spectra of Comet Haley on the basis of four fluorescence features by Clairemidi et al. in 2008.

UPDATE: The anthracene cation (C14H10+), a related compound, was identified toward Perseus in 2010 by Iglesias-Groth et al.

PAH species are well-known in terrestrial chemistry, where, unfortunately, they are often pollutants formed by incomplete combustion of fuels and other organic matter.

Click here for a 2004 news story about the detection of anthracene and pyrene.

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