Gas-phase chemistry in the interstellar medium is driven by fast ion–molecule reactions. This, of course, demands a mechanism for ionization, and cosmic rays are the ideal candidate as they can operate throughout the majority of both diffuse and dense interstellar clouds. Aside from driving interstellar chemistry via ionization, cosmic rays also interact with the interstellar medium in ways that heat the ambient gas, produce gamma rays, and produce light element isotopes. In this paper we review the observables generated by cosmic-ray interactions with the interstellar medium, focusing primarily on the relevance to astrochemistry.
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