March 2020
Potassium cyanide

The first detection of potassium cyanide (KCN) was reported in 2010 by Pulliam et al. toward IRC +10216, one of the most molecule-rich sources in the galaxy. Matches were found for 10 of 14 rotational transitions that were sought. The observations were made with the 12m telescope at the Arizona Radio Observatory on Kitt Peak. This detection has not yet been confirmed with subsequent observations.

Researcher Links
RL Pulliam
C Savage
M Agúndez
J Cernicharo
M Guélin
LM Ziurys

Like NaCN the most stable geometry of KCN is cyclic, although there are linear KCN and KNC minima as well (as for NaCN). KCN is an ionic compound, as the density cross-section shown here demonstrates very clearly. KCN is one of the many cyanide species detected to date in space. As a salt, potassium cyanide is a well-known and infamous poison, both in real life and in fiction.

The Astrochymist homepage
Maintained by DE Woon