Thunderstorms and Anti-matter

13 Jan 2011

This story was sent in by two members, Gary and Lawrence, having picked it up from two different sources, being www.wired.com/wiredscience/2011/11/01/lightning-antimatter-physics/ and http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/ January 11th. It seems that thunderstorms in the atmosphere, in this instance one over Zambia, produced gamma rays and beams of energetic particles of anti-matter, as viewed by NASAs Fermi gamma-ray Space Telescope onboard an orbiting satellite. A paper in an upcoming issue of Geophysical Research Letters will have the full story but the press release says  that thunderstorms produce anti-matter which is launched into space - and if earth does this and so too must the other planets. Positrons and electrons form in terrestrial gamma-ray flashes produced inside thunderstorms, it continues, but the process of how this is actually done is not as yet fully understood. When positrons inter-act with electrons they produce gamma-rays as observed by Fermi (there is a short video clip).