AAS 203rd Meeting, January 2004
Session 28 HAD II
Division Oral, Monday, January 5, 2004, 10:00-11:30am, Regency V

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[28.04] The Forgotten History of the 4050 Å\ Group of C3

B. J. McCall (UC Berkeley)

A series of absorption bands near 4050 Å\ was first observed in emission in the spectrum of Comet Tebbutt by Sir William Huggins in 1881. In his proceedings paper from the Symposium on Interstellar Lines at the Yerkes Observatory in 1941, Gerhard Herzberg suggested that the so-called "\lambda4050 group" might be due to CH2, and stated that "the writer expects to carry out experiments in the near future with a view to reproducing the \lambda4050 group in the laboratory." In 1942, Herzberg published a letter in the ApJ, reporting his observations of the group in an interrupted methane discharge. In a later paper (1965), Herzberg and co-authors explicitly claim that this was the first laboratory observation of the 4050-Å\ group, which had been correctly assigned to C3 by Alex Douglas in 1951.

The fact that the 4050-Å\ group was observed in the laboratory by Charles Raffety in 1916 seems to have been completely forgotten since Herzberg's "discovery" in 1942. This is all the more remarkable considering that this group was referred to as the "Raffety bands" as late as 1941, when Swings, Elvey, and Babcock discussed the change of nomenclature to the "\lambda4050 group." The term Raffety bands even appeared in the title of a review paper by Bobrovnikoff in the ApJ in 1931.

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