Context. More than 30 cyanide derivatives of simple organic molecules have been detected in the interstellar medium, but only one dicarbonitrile has been found and that very recently. There is still a lack of high-resolution spectroscopic data particularly for dinitriles derivatives. The carbonyl cyanide molecule is a new and interesting candidate for astrophysical detection. It could be formed by the reaction of CO and CN radicals, or by substitution of the hydrogen atom by a cyano group in cyanoformaldehyde, HC(=O)CN, that has already been detected in the interstellar medium.
Aims: The available data on the rotational spectrum of carbonyl cyanide is limited in terms of quantum number values and frequency range, and does not allow accurate extrapolation of the spectrum into the millimeter-wave range. To provide a firm basis for astrophysical detection of carbonyl cyanide we studied its millimeter-wave spectrum.
Methods: The rotational spectrum of carbonyl cyanide was measured in the frequency range 152-308 GHz and analyzed using Watson's A- and S-reduction Hamiltonians.
Results: The ground and first excited state of v5 vibrational mode were assigned and analyzed. More than 1100 distinct frequency lines of the ground state were fitted to produce an accurate set of rotational and centrifugal distortion constants up to the eighth order. The frequency predictions based on these constants should be accurate enough for astrophysical searches in the frequency range up to 500 GHz and for transition involving energy levels with J ≤ 100 and Ka ≤ 42. Based on the results we searched for interstellar carbonyl cyanide in available observational data without success. Thus, we derived upper limits to its column density in different sources.