Sunday, January 16, 2011

Thunderstorms make antimatter?

Thunderstorms make antimatter? whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa????? Yeah, that was my reaction when I read a recent article that Courtney sent me. Scientists using NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope have detected beams of antimatter. This antimatter is produced above thunderstorms by gamma-ray flash bursts associated with lightning.

Scientists estimate that world-wide there are approximately 500 gamma ray bursts from lightening daily worldwide. Most going undetected. Even though scientists have known about high energy bursts associated with thunderstorms, the confirmation coming from Fermi was a bit of a surprise. The Fermi Space Telescope is looking into deep space for tell tale gamma ray burst in space. So when Fermi scientists found their craft being bombarded with anti-matter electrons or positrons from thunderstorms only a few thousand miles away on Earth, you can imagine the surprised reaction. So much so that Michael Briggs, a member of Fermi's Gamma-ray Burst Monitor presented these findings during a recent briefing at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Seattle.

Ilana Harrus, Fermi program scientist has said that the Fermi mission has proven to be an amazing tool to probe the universe. Now we learn that it can discover mysteries much, much closer to home!

NASA Fermi article

Check out the NASA video, on the subject, below.

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