10 Jan 11 – Scientists using NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope have detected beams of antimatter produced above thunderstorms on Earth, a phenomenon never seen before.
Acting like enormous particle accelerators, the storms can emit terrestrial gamma-ray flashes, called TGFs, and high-energy electrons and positrons.
A terrestrial gamma-ray flash (TGF) is a brief burst produced inside thunderstorms and shown to be associated with lightning. It is estimated that about 500 TGFs occur daily worldwide, but most go undetected.
Fermi is designed to monitor gamma rays, the highest energy form of light. When antimatter striking Fermi collides with a particle of normal matter, both particles immediately are annihilated and transformed into gamma rays.
Fermi’s Gamma-ray Burst Monitor (GBM) has detected gamma rays with energies of 511,000 electron volts, a signal indicating an electron has met its antimatter counterpart, a positron.
Scientists long have suspected TGFs arise from the strong electric fields near the tops of thunderstorms. Under the right conditions, they say, the field becomes strong enough that it drives an upward avalanche of electrons.
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Thanks to Frank Shepherd for this link