Astronomers map new emission line to trace most common molecule in the Universe

Molecular hydrogen (H2) makes up 99% of the cold dense gas in galaxies. So mapping where stars are born basically means measuring H2, which lacks a strong characteristic signature at low temperatures. Astronomers from SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research and the University of Groningen have now mapped an emission signal from the trace molecule hydrogen fluoride (HF), in a place where the standard trace molecule carbon monoxide is absent. They are the first to produce a map of HF for a region in space, creating a new tool to indirectly map H2. Publication in Astronomy & Astrophysics on November 6th.

For more info see SRON website.