Researchers Detect Anti-Matter Particles From Solar Flares
John P. Millis, PhD for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
When the Universe was born, equal amounts of matter and anti-matter – matter with the same physical behavior as its matter counterparts, but with opposite charge – should have been created. However, the cosmos now appears to be dominated by normal matter.
Usually, direct study of anti-matter requires costly particle-accelerator experiments, or in some cases space-based observatories. Now however, Gregory D. Fleishman from the New Jersey Institute of Technology reports that his team has found a new way of studying this exotic matter using radio observations of the Sun.
During flaring activity, the Sun produces anti-matter particles, specifically anti-electrons – or as they are more commonly known, positrons. This fact had been suspected by scientists for decades, but figuring out a way to separate out the positron signal from the electron signal was not clear.
Fleishman’s team used radio observations from Japan’s Nobeyama Radioheliograph to study the polarization of the radio signal during a solar flare. Combining their results with NASA’s Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), which provided the magnetic field direction within the flare, the team found that the radio emission had a “normal” polarization in the low frequency band – corresponding to a large electron source – and had an “opposed” polarization at the higher frequency band where positrons dominate.
This signaled for the first time that positrons were observed in mass in a natural system, such as the Sun.