The Unidentified Infrared Bands, the low-frequency analog to the Diffuse Interstellar Bands, are now widely believed to originate from the emission of large, aromatic molecules in high-energy environments. Despite this, no individual species has been identified as a carrier, and indeed the only five- or six-membered aromatic ring molecule reported in the ISM is a single-line detection of benzene. Here, I will discuss a dedicated laboratory, observational, and modeling effort which has resulted in the first definitive identification and quantification of a benzene-ring containing aromatic molecule. The results will shed light on the probably formation pathways for larger aromatic species, and have identified a successful methodology for future, comprehensive investigations. A critical part of these observations may be provided by SOFIA, which has the potential to enable simultaneous observations of fully symmetric aromatic molecules to which radio astronomy is blind.
Interstellar Aromatic Molecules: Recent Advances and a SOFIA-Enabled Future?