Broad absorption features centered at 3.45 microns and at 3.0-3.0 microns towards a number of late-type supergiants in the vicinity of the galactic center were repeatedly reported. Here, 2.0 to 2.5 and 3.0 to 4.0 micron spectra are presented for field late-type highly reddened (A sub V is approximately 17-27) stars located in different regions of the galactic plane more than 20 deg away from the galactic center direction. The observations, made with the 3.6, 2.2, and 1.0 m ESO telescopes at La Silla, Chile, consists of CVF spectra with resolution lambda/delta lambda is approximately or equal to 100 and IRSPEC spectra with resolution lambda/delta lambda is approximately or equal to 700. In the direction of the most highly reddened stars, definitive detections of the 3.45 and the 3.0 to 3.1 micron absorption features are reported. The 3.45 micron feature was attributed to absorption arising in a vibrational transition resulting from the C-H stretching in organic compounds, while the 3.0 to 3.1 micron broader feature are tentatively attributed to O-H bonds. The observations strongly support that the agent producing the 3.45 micron feature, presumably organic molecules, is an important component of the diffuse interstellar medium and is not characteristic only of the galactic center environment.
NASA, Ames Research Center, Interstellar Dust: Contributed Papers; p 29