Antimatter belt around Earth discovered by Pamela craft
2011-08-08 0:00

From: bbc.co.uk



The antiprotons lie sandwiched between the inner and outer Van Allen belts (in red) around the Earth

A thin band of antimatter particles called antiprotons enveloping the Earth has been spotted for the first time.

The find, described in Astrophysical Journal Letters, confirms theoretical work that predicted the Earth’s magnetic field could trap antimatter.

The team says a small number of antiprotons lie between the Van Allen belts of trapped "normal" matter.

The researchers say there may be enough to implement a scheme using antimatter to fuel future spacecraft.

The antiprotons were spotted by the Pamela satellite (an acronym for Payload for Antimatter Matter Exploration and Light-nuclei Astrophysics) - launched in 2006 to study the nature of high-energy particles from the Sun and from beyond our Solar System - so-called cosmic rays.

These cosmic ray particles can slam into molecules that make up the Earth’s atmosphere, creating showers of particles.

Many of the cosmic ray particles or these "daughter" particles they create are caught in the Van Allen belts, doughnut-shaped regions where the Earth’s magnetic field traps them.

Among Pamela’s goals was to specifically look for small numbers of antimatter particles among the far more abundant normal matter particles such as protons and the nuclei of helium atoms.

’Abundant source’

The new analysis, described in an online preprint, shows that when Pamela passes through a region called the South Atlantic Anomaly, it sees thousands of times more antiprotons than are expected to come from normal particle decays, or from elsewhere in the cosmos.

The team says that this is evidence that bands of antiprotons, analogous to the Van Allen belts, hold the antiprotons in place - at least until they encounter the normal matter of the atmosphere, when they "annihilate" in a flash of light.

The band is "the most abundant source of antiprotons near the Earth", said Alessandro Bruno of the University of Bari, a co-author of the work.

"Trapped antiprotons can be lost in the interactions with atmospheric constituents, especially at low altitudes where the annihilation becomes the main loss mechanism," he told BBC News.

"Above altitudes of several hundred kilometres, the loss rate is significantly lower, allowing a large supply of antiprotons to be produced."

Dr Bruno said that, aside from confirming theoretical work that had long predicted the existence of these antimatter bands, the particles could also prove to be a novel fuel source for future spacecraft - an idea explored in a report for Nasa’s Institute for Advanced Concepts.



Related Articles


Latest News from our Front Page

Physician Linking Autism - Vaccines Found Shot Dead.
2015-06-30 3:38
James Jeffrey Bradstreet was a hero to many parents. He spent a great part of his life trying to fight for those children who sustained injuries from vaccines via the creation of medical procedures. This included his very own son. Clearly, his ideas and concepts and science were not accepted by all and created a great many heated debates online. On ...
Pedophiles Now Demanding Equality - Wanting Their Equal Rights to Marriage
2015-06-30 2:06
Using the same tactics used by “gay” rights activists, pedophiles have begun to seek similar status arguing their desire for children is a sexual orientation no different than heterosexual or homosexuals. Critics of the homosexual lifestyle have long claimed that once it became acceptable to identify homosexuality as simply an “alternative lifestyle” or sexual orientation, logically nothing would be off limits ...
Time: Orthodox Christians Must Now Learn To Live as Exiles in Our Own Country
2015-06-30 2:21
Rod Dreher is a senior editor and blogger at The American Conservative. Voting Republican and other failed culture war strategies are not going to save us now. No, the sky is not falling — not yet, anyway — but with the Supreme Court ruling constitutionalizing same-sex marriage, the ground under our feet has shifted tectonically. It is hard to overstate the significance of ...
Obama: Americans need to shift religious views
2015-06-30 1:46
From RamZPaul: Friday, President Obama gave a speech in which he said Americans need to change their religious views to be accepting of gay marriage. http://www.examiner.com/article/obama... Source: ramzpaul
11 Fake European Towns and Landmarks Made in China
2015-06-30 1:09
We’ve known the Chinese to imitate almost everything. From luxury bags to whatever the fad is, they have it already freshly made. We’ve also known that Chinese tourists traveling around the world continue to increase due to rising incomes and less restrictive passport regime. Europe is one of the mostly visited continents and more campaigns have been launched in some ...
More News »