The radiative cooling of a stored, initially rotationally hot OH- ion beam is probed by photodetachment using an electrostatic ion beam trap combined with an in-trap velocity map imaging spectrometer, providing direct measurement of the time-dependent rotational population. The rotational temperatures are estimated from photodetached electron spectra as a function of time using a Boltzmann distribution model and further verified by a rate law model using known Einstein coefficients. We demonstrate that during the entire cooling time, the rotational population can be well described by a Boltzmann distribution.
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