Molecular hydrogen

Emilie Habart*, Malcolm Walmsley, Laurent Verstraete, Stephanie Cazaux, Roberto Maiolino, Pierre Cox, Francois Boulanger, Guillaume Pineau Des Forêts

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)


Observations of H2 line emission in galactic and extragalactic environments obtained with the Infrared Space Observatory (ISO) are reviewed. The diagnostic capability of H2 observations is illustrated. We discuss what one has learned about such diverse astrophysical sources as photon-dominated regions, shocks, young stellar objects, planetary nebulae and starburst galaxies from ISO observations of H2 emission. In this context, we emphasise use of measured H2 line intensities to infer important physical quantities such as the gas temperature, gas density and radiation field and we discuss the different possible excitation mechanisms of H2. We also briefly consider future prospects for observation of H2 from space and from the ground.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-91
Number of pages21
JournalSpace Science Reviews
Issue number1-4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2005


  • Circumstellar matter
  • Infrared: galaxies
  • Infrared: spectroscopy
  • ISM: clouds
  • ISM: molecules
  • Molecular hydrogen
  • Molecular processes
  • Star formation


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