Thunderstorms Spawn Antimatter
By Thomas H. Maugh II | LATimes.com
To the great surprise of physicists and meteorologists alike, NASA’s orbiting Fermi gamma-ray observatory has discovered that thunderstorms are emitting powerful bursts of antimatter into space.
Antimatter is a mirror image of normal matter with unusual properties — protons with negative charges, electrons with positive charges, and so on. It was created in equal abundance to normal matter at the beginning of the universe, but was destroyed when it came in contact with the normal matter and is now primarily the subject of fiction: the material that powers the starship Enterprise, the bomb beneath the Vatican in the novel "Angels & Demons," and so on.
Very small amounts have been produced by powerful particle accelerators including CERN’s Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland, but can be captured for only fractions of a second. That’s why researchers are so astonished to see antimatter being produced by such a common event as lightning.
In retrospect, "we can say, ’Why didn’t we realize that was happening?’ " said physicist Joseph R. Dwyer of the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne, Fla., a coauthor of a paper about the findings that is scheduled to appear in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. Even so, "it’s surprising that we are seeing so much…. It illustrates the amazing things that thunderstorms can do."
Some indirect evidence in the past suggested that antimatter might be emitted by lightning, added electrical engineer Steven Cummer of Duke University, who studies lightning and the radio emissions from it. "But this is the first time it has been absolutely, unambiguously detected," he said.
Fermi, launched in 2008, detects gamma rays, the highest-energy form of electromagnetic waves — a spectrum that includes light rays. When a positron produced by a thunderstorm strikes an electron on the satellite, it releases gamma rays with a characteristic energy of 511,000 electron-volts. Such an event linked to a thunderstorm is known as a terrestrial gamma-ray flash. Fermi has witnessed 130 such events since its launch.
Most such events occurred when the satellite was directly over a storm. But one event, on Dec. 14, 2009, occurred when Fermi was over Egypt and the nearest active storm was in Zambia, about 2,800 miles to the south and well below the satellite’s horizon.
But the spacecraft was connected to the storm by the Earth’s magnetic field, Dwyer said. Particles rode up the lines of force and struck the craft. Some went past it and reached what is known as a mirror point, where increasing magnetic-field strength caused the particles to reverse their direction and journey back to strike Fermi 23 milliseconds after the first group.
Researchers still have only the roughest of ideas what is happening inside a thunderstorm when lightning is triggered. What is clear is that electric fields build up and accelerate electrons almost to the speed of light, like a giant particle accelerator in the sky, Dwyer said. The electrons "bump into air atoms and make gamma rays, which blast electrons and antielectrons out of the atmosphere."
What’s interesting, Cummer added, "is if we take what we know is happening and calculate how much antimatter might be produced, it’s quite a bit less than what was observed…. So clearly, we don’t have a lot of the details."
The research was also presented Monday at a Seattle meeting of the American Astronomical Society.
Article from: latimes.com
Fermi Sees Antimatter-Hurling Thunderstorms
Video from: YouTube.com
Thunder and Lightning a rare sight in Iceland - Weather Experimentation Connected with the Norway Aurora Light?
Thunderbolts of the Gods (Video)
Lightning Captured by X-Ray Camera—A First
A Social History of Ball Lightning
6-storey Jesus statue struck by lightning, burned to ground (Zeus sought for questioning ;) )
Strange ’Squid-like’ Lightning Spotted over France
Scientist Looks to Weaponize Ball Lightning
DARPA: Hacking Nature to Create Weapons of the Gods
Latest News from our Front Page
Facebook completes first drone flight above UK, Mark Zuckerberg confirms
Solar powered drones which provide internet access to rural and remote areas have been trialled in UK for first time by Facebook.
They â€śhave a wingspan greater than a Boeing 737 but will weigh less than a carâ€ť, according to the social network's chief Mark Zuckerberg.
The drones, developed by Somerset-based company Ascenta which Facebook bought last March, will beam down laser-guided ...
300 Young English Girls (and a few Boys) Groomed and Assaulted by Oxfordshire "Gangs," Report Finds
Editor's note: This story is a few days old now but the echoes of Rotherham just keeps coming. A few weeks ago there was Halifax, now Britain proudly can add Oxfordshire to their line up of diversity success stories.
Below is the story from the telegraph:
Serious case review finds failings by police and social services as it identifies hundreds of victims
British POW describes the horror of the bombing of Dresden
Partial Transcript of Interview with Victor Gregg, WW2 British solder and POW:
Interviewer: "Tell us how it was that you were in Dresden at that time."
Victor Gregg: "It was evil....thousands of firebombs dropping all over the place, heat, fire, people screaming, people burning, people alight. After about half an hour it started developing into something that was really bad....It was ...
Rape of 285,000 German Women at the End of WWII Trigger Damage Control by Mainstream Media
Is Exposing Allied War Crimes an honorable act? No, itâ€™s slandering heroes according to Daily Mail
A recent article from the Daily Mail that pretends to look at the post WWII crimes and rapes of the Allies against the German people is actually damage control. Itâ€™s really an attempt to divert away from the true horrors that was visited upon Germany ...
Minister of Migration attacked by asylum seeker with fire extinguisher
Swedenâ€™s Minister of Justice & Migration also known as Morgan â€śonly 1%â€ť Johansson, has been attacked with a fire extinguisher when he visited an asylum home for future Swedes.
Regional newspaper, Kristiandstadsbladet reported that a man who had been living at the home for a couple of weeks grabbed a fire extinguisher and sprayed foam all over the minister who didnâ€™t ...
|More News » |