Monday, January 14, 2008

Source of Mysterious Antimatter Found

Shaun Saunders found a neat article written by Charles Q. Choi that appeared in Live Science online. The article deals with finding a source of large amounts of anti-matter that was discovered in the late 70s but no source could be found. That may have changed. Here are some excerpts.

For decades, scientists had clues that a vast cloud of antimatter lurked in space, but they did not know where it came from. The mysterious source of this antimatter has now been discovered -- stars getting ripped apart by neutron stars and black holes. In 1978, gamma ray detectors flown on balloons detected a type of gamma ray that is known to be emitted when electrons collide with positrons -- meaning there was antimatter in space. These gamma rays apparently came from a cloud of antimatter roughly 10,000 light-years across surrounding our galaxy's core. This giant cloud shines brightly with gamma rays, with about the energy of 10,000 suns. New findings suggest that positrons originate mainly from stars getting devoured by black holes and neutron stars. As a black hole or neutron star destroys a star, tremendous amounts of radiation are released. Just as electrons and positrons emit the tell-tale gamma rays upon annihilation, so too can gamma rays combine to form electrons and positrons, providing the mechanism for the creation of the antimatter cloud.

Click here for complete article

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