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Antiproton (antimatter) ring found around Earth

qubit

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#1


ANTIPROTONS appear to ring the Earth, confined by the planet's magnetic field lines. The antimatter, which may persist for minutes or hours before annihilating with normal matter, could in theory be used to fuel ultra-efficient rockets of the future.

Charged particles called cosmic rays constantly rain in from space, creating a spray of new particles - including antiparticles - when they collide with particles in the atmosphere. Many of these become trapped inside the Van Allen radiation belts, two doughnut-shaped zones around the planet where charged particles spiral around the Earth's magnetic field lines.

Satellites had already discovered positrons - the antimatter partners of electrons - in the radiation belts. Now a spacecraft has detected antiprotons, which are nearly 2000 times as massive.

Heavier particles take wider paths when they spiral around the planet's magnetic lines, and weaker magnetic field lines also lead to wider spirals. So relatively heavy antiprotons travelling around the weak field lines in the outer radiation belt were expected to take loops so big they would quickly get pulled into the lower atmosphere, where they would annihilate with normal matter. The inner belt was thought to have fields strong enough to trap antiprotons, and indeed that is where they have been found.

Piergiorgio Picozza from the University of Rome Tor Vergata, Italy, and colleagues detected the antiprotons using PAMELA, a cosmic-ray detector attached to a Russian Earth-observation satellite. The spacecraft flies through the Earth's inner radiation belt over the south Atlantic.

Between July 2006 and December 2008, PAMELA detected 28 antiprotons trapped in spiralling orbits around the magnetic field lines sprouting from the Earth's south pole (Astrophysical Journal Letters, DOI: 10.1088/2041-8205/737/2/l29). PAMELA samples only a small part of the inner radiation belt, but antiprotons are probably trapped throughout it. "We are talking about of billions of particles," says team member Francesco Cafagna from the University of Bari in Italy.

"I find it very interesting to note that the Earth's magnetic field works a little bit like the magnetic traps that we are using in the lab," says Rolf Landua at the CERN particle physics laboratory near Geneva, Switzerland. There, researchers have been trying to trap antimatter for ever longer periods to compare its behaviour with that of normal matter.

Alessandro Bruno, another team member from Bari, says antimatter in the Earth's radiation belts might one day be useful for fuelling spacecraft. Future rockets could be powered by the reaction between matter and antimatter, a reaction that produces energy even more efficiently than nuclear fusion in the sun's core.

"This is the most abundant source of antiprotons near the Earth," says Bruno. "Who knows, one day a spacecraft could launch then refuel in the inner radiation belt before travelling further."

Millions or billions of times as many antiprotons probably ring the giant planets.
As these annihilate on contact with normal matter, I'm surprised that spacecraft and satellites flying through it don't get damaged or eventually destroyed.

New Scientist
 
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#2
Why aren't we noticing the annihilation? Is it some invisible battle?

And I don't just mean with our bear eyes.

Also

"I find it very interesting to note that the Earth's magnetic field works a little bit like the magnetic traps that we are using in the lab"

Shouldn't that be the other way around? Aren't their magnetic traps working a little like the Earth's Magnetic field...
 

qubit

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#3
No, you wouldn't notice the annihilation, as these are individual particles, so the explosions are truly tiny. If one happened right in front of your nose you wouldn't see it. However, these are most powerful explosions possible - way more than a nuclear fission explosion, so it wouldn't take that much to make it visible. I reckon a 1000 or so particles should do it.

Also, space is pretty empty, even near earth so collisions don't happen all that often.
 
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#4
Future rockets could be powered by the reaction between matter and antimatter, a reaction that produces energy even more efficiently than nuclear fusion in the sun's core.
Lol it ain't amount of energy that matters. It's how you use it. It's rather a good weapon.

Anyway now I wonder where antineutrons are partying
 

Easy Rhino

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#5
Make sure the shiny end of your tin foil hat is pointed outwards!!!!
 
T

twilyth

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#6
The diameter of a proton is 10^-15 meters. A nanometer is 10^-9 meters.

The tracings (conductive pathways) on current cpu's are 32nm.

So a proton is more than 1 million times smaller than a trace on a cpu die.

What I think is interesting is that they're finding antiprotons and not anti-hydrogen. You would think that with all of the cosmic radiation we get these lonely antiprotons would have found a willing positron by now. IDK. Seems very strange.
 

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#7
Dammit man, you had me excited that I was gonna get some sort of awesome super-villainy ring to wear that lets me destroy things at will.

 
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#8
Dammit man, you had me excited that I was gonna get some sort of awesome super-villainy ring to wear that lets me destroy things at will.
Antimatter Ring:
Level 25 required
Causes utter destruction to 100ft radius (consumes 120 mana)
additional bonuses;
+ 10 to Magic
+ 75 to Mana
+ 5 to Fire Damage
-15 to HP
Stackable
 
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#10
The diameter of a proton is 10^-15 meters
10^-15 is called femto. This short range is the best for strong interaction - a force carried by little sexy gluons.

What I think is interesting is that they're finding antiprotons and not anti-hydrogen. You would think that with all of the cosmic radiation we get these lonely antiprotons would have found a willing positron by now. IDK. Seems very strange.
Mmm the strangest thing ever is called Protonium

Mixing antimatter and matter usually has predictably violent consequences - the two annihilate one another in a fierce burst of energy. But physicists in Geneva have found a new way to make the two combine, at least briefly, into a single substance. This exceptionally unstable stuff, made of protons and antiprotons, is called protonium.
http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn10302-antimatter-and-matter-combine-in-chemical-reaction.html
 
T

twilyth

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#11
It's definitely strange that it lasted even that long. When I first saw the name I figured it would be something like anti-helium. Never would have guessed a hybrid. I guess I filtered out that part of quote. It just didn't register.

I think I might subscribe. The cover story looks good. I always thought space-time was a bogus concept. It's just that it seems to work so damned well.

And I liked the list of articles and news briefs. Plus, unlike SciAm, they don't try to charge you twice for a subscription. :shadedshu

edit: oh, I think maybe the reason there was no anti-hydrogen has to do with the polarity of the field. Just a guess.
 
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#12
edit: oh, I think maybe the reason there was no anti-hydrogen has to do with the polarity of the field. Just a guess.
Anti-hydrogen is extremely rare in the universe. I remember an article it was published in May how scientists managed to trap anti-hydrogen for about 10 minutes.

http://www.technologyreview.com/blog/arxiv/26709/

Most important of these is whether ordinary gravity attracts or repels antimatter. In other words, does anti-hydrogen fall up or down? The ALPHA team now plans to cool a small lump of anti-hydrogen and then watch it as it falls (or rises).
ROFL I won't be surprised if anti-hydrogen falls up!
 
T

twilyth

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#13
Yeah. Kinda highlights how little we actually know.

What I was thinking was wrong anyway. Now that I look at the diagram more carefully I see it's a sphere that looks homogenous. So I guess my original question still stands.

Ah, wait a minute. Anti-hydrogen would be electrically neutral. It would drift off and be annihilated.

D'oh!
 

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#14