Detection of interstellar N2O: A new molecule containing an N-O bond

L. M. Ziurys, A. J. Apponi, J. M. Hollis, L. E. Snyder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


A new interstellar molecule, N2O, known as nitrous oxide or "laughing gas," has been detected using the NRAO 12 m telescope. The J = 3 → 2, 4 → 3, 5 → 4, and 6 → 5 rotational transitions of this species at 75, 100, 125, and 150 GHz, respectively, were observed toward Sgr B2(M). The column density derived for N2O in this source is Ntot ∼ 1015 cm-2, which corresponds to a fractional abundance of ∼ 10-9, relative to H2. This value implies abundance ratios of N2O/NO ∼ 0.1 and N2O/HNO ∼ 3 in the Galactic center. Such ratios are in excellent agreement with predictions of ion-molecule models of interstellar chemistry using early-time calculations and primarily neutral-neutral reactions. N2O is the third interstellar molecule detected thus far containing an N-O bond. Such bonds cannot be so rare as previously thought.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L181-L184
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2 PART 2
StatePublished - Dec 1 1994


  • ISM: Galaxy: center
  • ISM: abundances
  • ISM: molecules
  • Line: identification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Detection of interstellar N2O: A new molecule containing an N-O bond'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this