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ASTROCHEMISTRY

Discovery of the first molecular ion in the Universe

After 30 years of searching, the helium hydride ion, the first chemical bond that was formed in the Universe, has finally been detected outside the laboratory, in the interstellar medium. It was seen in planetary nebula NGC 7027 using the GREAT spectrometer aboard the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy.

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Correspondence to Stephen Lepp.

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Fig. 1: Planetary nebula NGC 7027 and SOFIA.

Hubble, NASA, ESA; processing and license: Judy Schmidt (left); NASA Image Collection / Alamy Stock Photo (right)