May 2015

Cyanic acid

On the basis of new experimental data, Brünken et al. reported the tentative detection of cyanic acid, HOCN, in existing data observed toward the Galactic center source Sgr B2 in 2009. The four lines that match the experimental data were reported in two published papers from the 1980s by Cummins et al. and Turner and an unpublished survey by Remijan et al. from 2008. In the following year, Brünken et al. published a follow-up study that confirmed that the four lines are present in other sight lines in the extended Sgr B2 region.

HOCN is less stable than isocyanic acid (HNCO), which has been a known astromolecule for over four decades. A third isomer, fulminic acid (HCNO), has also been observed, while the fourth, isofulminic acid (HONC) has only be observed in the lab and not yet in space.

Calculations have shown that both HNCO and HOCN can give rise to the cyanate anion if they transfer a proton to ammonia in interstellar ice.

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