Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Antimatter factory

The Antimatter Factory (by Django Manglunki)
Over the past 20 years scientists at CERN have been using antiparticles in many different ways for their daily work. Antiparticles can be generated by colliding subatomic particles. Before being delivered to the various physics experiments, they must be isolated, collected and stored in order to tune their energy to the appropriate level.
Until now, each of these steps has been carried out by a dedicated machine with the main purpose of providing high energy antiparticles.
But now the first "self-contained antiproton factory", the Antiproton Decelerator (or AD), is operational at CERN . It will produce the low energy antiprotons needed for a range of studies, including the synthesis of antihydrogen atoms - the creation of antimatter.

Live from CERN: antimatter

In 1997 Scientists found evidence of two large clouds of antimatter located in the Milky Way Galaxy which may be linked to a large black hole in the center of our galaxy or supernova explosions of massive stars. Scientists from Northwestern University, the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), and other institutions used an instrument on the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory to find two clouds of antimatter. One large cloud was found in a region surrounding the center of the galaxy, while a second plume of antimatter extended up to 3,000 light-years above the Milky Way's core. The second plume of antimatter was unexpected and has yet to be explained. "The origin of this new and unexpected source of antimatter is a mystery," said Northwestern University physics professor William Purcell. James R. Kurfess of NRL outlines three possible sources for the antimatter plume. "The antimatter cloud could have been formed by multiple star bursts occurring in the central region of the galaxy, jets of material from a black hole near the galactic center, the merger of two neutron stars, or it could have been produced by an entirely different source," he said. The astronomers used the Oriented Scintillation Spectrometer Experiment (OSSE), one of the instruments on the orbiting gamma-ray observatory. The instrument detects gamma rays produced when positrons, the antimatter version of electrons, come into contact with regular matter and annihilate. "It's possible that this mapping effort could turn up evidence for other unexpected clouds of positrons," Kurfess said. "We will keep monitoring the center of the Galaxy in the hope of seeing evidence for a black hole 'turning on' and producing positrons," he added.

Spaceviews: NASA Press release May 1997
blackhole production and sonluminence by Plato
antimatter: mirror of the universe from CERN
Quote of the Day:
Action and reaction, ebb and flow, trial and error, change -
this is the rhythm of living. Out of our over-confidence, fear;
out of our fear, clearer vision, fresh hope. And out of hope, progress.
Bruce Barton