Curious cloud astounds astronomers with antimatter

Deep in the heart of our Galaxy there lurks a giant cloud of antimatter.

 

Astronomers have been mystified by the cloud for around 40 years, particularly where it came from.

antimattercloud

(Antimatter cloud emitting gamma rays, in white contours as imaged by Weidenspointer et al. 2005, superimposed on the Milky Way in visible light)

Antimatter can be considered matter’s evil twin. The cloud is made up of positrons, the antimatter twin of the more familiar electron. Positrons and electrons are virtually identical, but they have equal and opposite charges. And when they get too close to one another, BOOM! The particles are said to annihilate one another, producing pure energy. It’s this energy release, in the form of gamma rays, which allows us to observe the cloud.

 

Researchers at ANU are actively investigating the origins of the cloud, so watch this space as they try to uncover a cosmic mystery.

 

Guest post by: Fiona H. Panther and E. Birchall

 

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