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High signal-to-noise ratio spectra have been obtained of the diffuse interstellar bands at 5780 and 5797 Å in the spectrum of HD 29647, a heavily reddened star within or behind a portion of the Taurus dark cloud complex. The observations were made using the coudé spectrograph on the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope. The Reticon detector combined with the coudé spectrograph and excellent observing conditions allowed S/N ratios as high as 200 for this star, which was V=8.37 and E(BV)=1.03. In two separate exposures both bands were found to be narrower and weaker than normal values for stars of similar reddening, and the profiles appear to deviate from those normally seen as well. Theories of band formation due to absorption centers in solid grains require bandwidths much greater than observed in HD 29647 and predict profile variations with grain size that are quite different from what is seen. Therefore we suggest that these observations argue for a molecular origin for the diffuse bands. The observed profiles may be explained as due to unusual rotational excitation in molecules.

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Astrophys. J.


Copyright 1991 American Astronomical Society