Thunderstorms on Earth hurl antimatter into space

January 11th, 2011 - 5:46 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Jan 11 (ANI): With the help of NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, scientists have detected beams of antimatter produced above thunderstorms on Earth, a phenomenon never seen before.

Scientists think the antimatter particles were formed in a terrestrial

gamma-ray flash (TGF), a brief burst produced inside thunderstorms and shown to be associated with lightning.

It is estimated that about 500TGFs occur daily worldwide, but most go undetected.

“These signals are the first direct evidence that thunderstorms make

antimatter particle beams,” said Michael Briggs, a member of Fermi’s

Gamma-ray Burst Monitor (GBM) team at the University of Alabama in

Huntsville.

Fermi is designed to monitor gamma rays, the highest energy form of light. When antimatter, striking Fermi collides with a particle of normal matter, both particles immediately are annihilated and transformed into gamma rays.

The GBM has detected gamma rays with energies of 511,000 electron volts, a signal indicating an electron has met its antimatter counterpart, a positron.

The findings were presented during a news briefing at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Seattle. (ANI)

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