Published online by Cambridge University Press: 23 April 2010
The ionization balances for HI, OI and DI being locked together by charge exchange, the deuterium-to-oxygen ratio is considered to be a good proxy for the deuterium-to-hydrogen ratio, in particular within the interstellar medium. As the DI and OI column densities are of similar orders of magnitude for a given sight line, comparisons of the two values are generally less subject to systematic errors than comparisons of DI and HI. Moreover, D/O is additionally sensitive to astration, because as stars destroy deuterium, they should produce oxygen. D/O measurements are now available for tens of lines of sight in the interstellar medium, most of them from FUSE observations. The D/H and D/O ratios show different pictures, D/H being clearly more dispersed than D/O. The low, homogeneous D/O ratio measured on distant lines of sight suggests a deuterium abundance representative of the present epoch that is about two times lower than this measured within the local interstellar medium.