Literature Review: Antimatter Above Us

by Carl Strang

This week’s literature tidbit is from the ScienceDaily website earlier this year. A report from NASA cast an intriguing light on a familiar phenomenon.

Lightning, Dakota badlands

Analysis of data from a research satellite has revealed that thunderstorms can generate antimatter. This happens when the extreme electrical field near the top of a storm “drives an upward avalanche of electrons.” These electrons have been accelerated to near light speed, and when some collide with molecules in the atmosphere they can produce gamma rays. Some of the many gamma rays so produced decay into electron-positron pairs, and the satellite detected some of the antimatter positrons when they interacted with its sensors.

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