Using the Sun to illuminate a basic mystery of matter

Jul 08, 2013
Image of sun courtesy of NASA.

Antimatter has been detected in solar flares via microwave and magnetic-field data, according to a presentation by NJIT Research Professor of Physics Gregory D. Fleishman and two co-researchers at the 44th meeting of the American Astronomical Society's Solar Physics Division. This research sheds light on the puzzling strong asymmetry between matter and antimatter by gathering data on a very large scale using the Sun as a laboratory.

While antiparticles can be created and then detected with costly and complex particle-accelerator experiments, such particles are otherwise very difficult to study. However, Fleishman and the two co-researchers have reported the first remote detection of relativistic antiparticles—positrons—produced in nuclear interactions of accelerated ions in through the analysis of readily available microwave and magnetic-field data obtained from solar-dedicated facilities and spacecraft. That such particles are created in solar flares is not a surprise, but this is the first time their immediate effects have been detected.

The results of this research have far-reaching implications for gaining valuable knowledge through remote detection of relativistic antiparticles at the Sun and, potentially, other by means of radio-telescope observations. The ability to detect these antiparticles in an astrophysical source promises to enhance our understanding of the basic structure of matter and high-energy processes such as solar flares, which regularly have a widespread and disruptive terrestrial impact, but also offer a natural laboratory to address the most fundamental mysteries of the universe we live in.

Electrons and their antiparticles, positrons, have the same physical behavior except that electrons have a negative charge while positrons, as their name implies, have a positive charge. This charge difference causes positrons to emit the opposite sense of circularly polarized , which Fleishman and his colleagues used to distinguish them. To do that required knowledge of the magnetic field direction in the solar flare, provided by NASA's Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), and radio images at two frequencies from Japan's Nobeyama Radioheliograph. Fleishman and his colleagues found that the radio emission from the flare was polarized in the normal sense (due to more numerous electrons) at the lower frequency (lower energy) where the effect of positrons is expected to be small, but reversed to the opposite sense at the same location, although at the higher frequency (higher energy) where can dominate.

Explore further: Longer distance quantum teleportation achieved

More information: Fleishman, who is affiliated with the NJIT Center for Solar-Terrestrial Research, worked with Alexander T. Altyntsev and Natalia S. Meshalkina, Institute of Solar-Terrestrial Physics, Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences. They are presenting their research in a paper titled "Discovery of Relativistic Positrons in Solar Flares" at the 44th meeting of the Solar Physics Division of the American Astronomical Society, held in Bozeman, Montana, July 8-11.

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User comments : 8

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5 / 5 (2) Jul 08, 2013
I guess it's my "Monk moment", but if they're going to call positive electrons positrons, then negative electrons should be called negatrons. I know that it's way too late for this sort of change in the nomenclature, but I there it is.
3.1 / 5 (7) Jul 08, 2013
I guess it's my "Monk moment", but if they're going to call positive electrons positrons, then negative electrons should be called negatrons. I know that it's way too late for this sort of change in the nomenclature, but I there it is.
Always GOOGLE bright ideas first.

negatron [ˈnɛgəˌtrɒn]
(Physics / Atomic Physics) an obsolete word for electron
[from nega(tive + elec)tron]
5 / 5 (1) Jul 08, 2013
Negatron sounds like the bad guy in a cartoon.
5 / 5 (2) Jul 08, 2013
i meant to give you a 5 Ghost -- mouse slipped at last second -- sorry for the 4
1 / 5 (2) Jul 08, 2013
Negatron sounds like the bad guy in a cartoon.
Uh no that would be this guy

-And he is good.
not rated yet Jul 08, 2013

Perhaps someone was concerned that anti-protons would be tagged "controns." ;0)
1 / 5 (1) Jul 08, 2013
Most of the antimatter got converted to anti-tachyons which in turn got used up in 'cloaking device' on Star Trek
1 / 5 (1) Aug 14, 2013
Antimatter particles erupting from solar flares are due to gamma emissions with energy 1.02 MeV and above from radioisotopes (235-uranium fission products) present in solar flare. A number of radioisotopes started with 90-Kr, 131m-Te, 135-I, 137-I, 131-Sn, 136-Cs etc (mentioned in Table 1 of the following paper) present in solar flare can give raise to positrons.

M.A. Padmanabha Rao,
Discovery of Self-Sustained 235-U Fission Causing Sunlight by Padmanabha Rao Effect,
IOSR Journal of Applied Physics (IOSR-JAP),Volume 4, Issue 2 (Jul. - Aug. 2013), PP 06-24