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  1. Abstract Bonding in the ground state of C $${}_{2}$$ 2 is still a matter of controversy, as reasonable arguments may be made for a dicarbon bond order of $$2$$ 2 , $$3$$ 3 , or $$4$$ 4 . Here we report on photoelectron spectra of the C $${}_{2}^{-}$$ 2 − anion, measured at a range of wavelengths using a high-resolution photoelectron imaging spectrometer, which reveal both the ground $${X}^{1}{\Sigma}_{\mathrm{g}}^{+}$$ X 1 Σ g + and first-excited $${a}^{3}{\Pi}_{{\mathrm{u}}}$$ a 3 Π u electronic states. These measurements yield electron angular anisotropies that identify the character of two orbitals: the diffuse detachment orbitalmore »of the anion and the highest occupied molecular orbital of the neutral. This work indicates that electron detachment occurs from predominantly $$s$$ s -like ( $$3{\sigma}_{\mathrm{g}}$$ 3 σ g ) and $$p$$ p -like ( $$1{\pi }_{{\mathrm{u}}}$$ 1 π u ) orbitals, respectively, which is inconsistent with the predictions required for the high bond-order models of strongly $$sp$$ s p -mixed orbitals. This result suggests that the dominant contribution to the dicarbon bonding involves a double-bonded configuration, with 2 $$\pi$$ π bonds and no accompanying $$\sigma$$ σ bond.« less