Thunderstorms blast antimatter clouds into space

January 12th, 2011 - 4:36 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Jan 12 (IANS) It was once the preserve of Star Trek and other sci-fi TV shows. But thunderstorms actually blast antimatter clouds into space from earth, scientists monitoring them through telescopes found.The phenomenon is produced by a reaction inside thunderstorms when circling the planet.

Spotted above thunderstorms around the world, the blasts were monitored by NASA researchers using the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, the Daily Mail reports.

Antimatter is the mirror of ordinary matter. Normal atoms are made up of positively-charged nuclei orbited by negatively-charged electrons.

However, their antimatter counterparts are the wrong way round. They have negative nuclei and positively-charged electrons.

When matter and antimatter meet, they instantly annihilate each other, releasing a burst of energy.

The telescope was able to research terrestrial Gamma-ray flashes (TGFs), which happen when a burst of antimatter energy is emitted inside a thunderstorm.

It is estimated that about 500 TGFs occur daily worldwide, but most go undetected and none have ever been studied until now.

Researchers hope the study will eventually shed more light on the theory that a whole antimatter universe exists alongside our own.

Joseph Dwyer at the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne said: “Even though Fermi couldn’t see the storm, the spacecraft nevertheless was magnetically connected to it.”

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