Recent mass spectrometer measurements of the composition of the coma of Giacombini-Zinner and Halley comets have indicated the presence of large amounts of H3O+. Here, we suggest that some of these ions arise from the photoionization of the water dimer, which is formed by direct vaporization of ice from solid surfaces at the cometary nucleus or from ice particles ejected in cometary jets.
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Murad, E., Bochsler, P. Speculations about the origin of H3O+ seen in cometary mass spectra. Nature 326, 366–367 (1987). https://doi.org/10.1038/326366a0
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