Lightning - the only visible product of intense electrical activity that takes place in thunderclouds. But scientists unexpectedly found there something more interesting: a large amount of antimatter, writes
Journal Nature. Perhaps this fact will help to explain how the clouds formed by lightning.
Recently, it is known that a powerful storm generates positrons (antiparticles of electrons). However, August 21, 2009 Dr. Joseph Dwyer Physics (Joseph Dwyer) at the University of New Hampshire and colleagues flew by plane together with the measuring equipment. They skidded straight into a storm cloud - and there is a number of devices registered positrons, which can not be explained by any physical process.
The fact that a key feature of antimatter is that upon contact with normal matter are annihilated. Particles and antiparticles cease to exist, giving rise to a number of other particles. That's why antimatter is so rare.
The phenomenon seemed so strange that Dwyer several years after the incident, did not publish the results of observations.
In the past decade, namely Dr. Dwyer and his colleagues have shown that during the storm the formation of positrons, as well as high-energy photons. Flying around thunderclouds was committed for research purposes. Of course, nobody was going to go straight in a pilot misinterpreted the radar readings. Dwyer says that when everyone realized the mistake, he said goodbye to life.
In just a few minutes in the storm clouds plane narrowly escaped an electric discharge. But the devices have registered three waves of photons with energies 511 keV - a concrete sign of the annihilation of positrons three.
Each burst lasted for 0, 2 seconds and was followed by the subsequent flow of photons with slightly lower energy. Scientists suggest that some of the particles of the lost energy, overcoming a certain distance. From this, they calculated that the aircraft was in a short-lived positron cloud diameter of about 1-2 km.
Five years scientists have simulated the generation of positrons with this setting, but have not been able to put forward the theory. For example, if the positrons were of cosmic origin, then the device is registered to other types of radiation due to the motion of positrons. That did not happen.
Now Dwyer and his colleagues decided to publish. The scientific article published in the Journal of Plasma Physics (Journal of Plasma Physics). Online, it is no.
Colleagues agree that the phenomenon can not be explained. "These observations are puzzling," - said physicist at the NASA space center Michael Briggs (Michael Briggs) in the comment Nature. Other physicists questioned the calculation of the size of the "positron cloud." It may have been much less. Russian physicist Alexander Gurevich of the Lebedev Physical Institute. Lebedev RAS skeptical suggested that the "cloud" at all limited to skin of the aircraft, which is moving at a high speed to generate a powerful electromagnetic field around the wing - and it started generating positrons.
To test the theory, the need for new experimental data. Fans start to storm clouds balloons. The American scientists have an idea to run into the cloud particle detector for an armored antitank attack aircraft A-10 'Warthog'.
In any case, within the storm apparently there is something interesting.