Since a previous COSPAR review on this subject, the number of molecular species identified by astronomers in dense interstellar clouds or in the envelopes expelled by evolved stars has grown from about eighty to approximately one hundred. Recent detections in stellar envelopes include the radical CP, the second phosphorus-containing astronomical molecule; SiN, the first astronomical molecule with a Si---N bond; and the HCCN radical. In the dense interstellar clouds recent detections or verifications of previous possible identifications include the H3O+ ion, which is a critical intermediary in the production of H2O and O2; the CCO radical, which is isoelectronic with HCCN; the SO+ ion, which appears to be diagnostic of shock chemistry; two new isomers of cyanoacetylene, HCCNC and CCCNH; and the two cumulenes H2C3 and H2C4. Some recent work is also described on the mapping of interstellar clouds in multiple molecular transitions in order to separate variations in chemical abundance from gradients in physical parameters.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/wirvine/104/