Researchers prove existence of antiproton radiation belt around Earth

August 5, 2011 by Bob Yirka report

Italian researchers using data from the satellite PAMELA have proven that theories showing there ought to be a ring of antiprotons encircling the Earth due to cosmic rays colliding with nuclei in the upper atmosphere are correct. Piergiorgio Picozza from the University of Rome, Tor Vergata, and a host of colleagues have published the results of their findings in arXiv.

Physicists have theorized that the constant stream of (generally comprised of protons, electrons and helium nuclei) generated by the sun and other little understand sources must produce a shower of sorts of smaller particles when they collide with other nuclei in the ’s upper atmosphere and break apart. Some of those smaller particles have been assumed to be , many of which would be annihilated when colliding with particles of ordinary matter. Those particles that don’t collide with ordinary matter however, should remain in the atmosphere, forming a belt, called the Van Allen radiation belt, around the planet. It’s this belt that the researchers set out to prove existed, which would in turn prove the whole theory to be correct.

Because of the earth’s magnetic field, physicists suggest there actually exist two such radiation belts covering the planet, the outer and inner. The outer belt should be comprised of lighter particles such as positrons, while the inner belt would consist of much larger particles, such as antiprotons because the force of gravity would be able to hold them in.

To test the theory, the researchers turned to the Payload for Antimatter Matter Exploration and Light-nuclei Astrophysics (PAMELA) Russian made satellite, which has a cosmic ray detector onboard and regularly passes through a particularly dense section of the Van Allen belt called the South Atlantic Anomaly.

Over a period of 850 days, between July 2006 and December 2008, sensors onboard PAMELA detected 28 antiprotons, which the team says, is about three times more than would be found from a random sample of the solar wind, and constitutes the most abundant source of antiprotons ever seen near the Earth.

Besides proving the Van Allen theory correct, the discovery also opens the door to other possibilities, such as using the discovered antiprotons for manmade purposes, such as one day perhaps serving as fuel for rockets.

Explore further: NASA Finds Lightning Clears Safe Zone in Earth's Radiation Belt

More information: arxiv.org/abs/1107.4882

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27 comments

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ShotmanMaslo
4 / 5 (7) Aug 05, 2011
Wasnt the existence of van Allen belts known long ago?
danlgarmstrong
3.6 / 5 (5) Aug 05, 2011
Harvesting antiprotons from the Van Allen radiation belts? Is that what the author was suggesting? I wonder what kind of calculations have been performed on the mass density of these belts, and how much antimatter would be needed to power a spacecraft. My guess is it would be better to manufacture antimatter on the moon rather than try to pull it out of our radiation belts. That is just a feeling though - no hard science to it.
Shootist
4.4 / 5 (8) Aug 05, 2011
such as antiprotons because the force of gravity would be able to hold them in.


Does this put the kibosh on anti-matter/(anti/reverse/negative)-gravity nonsense that has been floating about lately?
drloko
1 / 5 (5) Aug 05, 2011
Shootist, why do you think CPT violation is more likely than antigravity?
massnerder
5 / 5 (7) Aug 05, 2011
Um, there's evidence for CPT violation, where antigravity is an unproven idea?
drloko
5 / 5 (4) Aug 05, 2011
What evidence is there for CPT violation?
Any CPT violation results in a breaking of Lorentz symmetry.
drloko
5 / 5 (2) Aug 05, 2011
According to the most recent published tables, there is no experimental support for Lorentz symmetry violation which implies no CPT violations.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (9) Aug 05, 2011
Does this put the kibosh on anti-matter/(anti/reverse/negative)-gravity nonsense that has been floating about lately?

Was going to post the exact same thought. Even if the magentic field of the Earth were able to contain gravitationally repulsed anti-particles we should see the lighter particles (betas) on the inside track and the antiprotons on the outside track.

Besides proving the Van Allen radiation belt theory correct, the discovery also opens the door to other possibilities, such as using the discovered antiprotons for manmade purposes, such as one day perhaps serving as fuel for rockets.

Probably not. The amount you'd need to harvest would be ENORMOUSLY more than what the probe detected.

In over two years it encountered 28 atoms. You'd need to capture (and contain!) 21 orders of magnitude(!) more to get only 1 kg of antiprotons.
drloko
5 / 5 (8) Aug 05, 2011
Van Allen belt interactions are dominated by the electormagnetic fource, not gravitation. THe outer belt contains particles from electrons to oxygen ions. Gravatational effects here are negligable.

Furthermore, the distributional effects on the antimatter particles cannot be inferred from only 28 observations.
gwrede
5 / 5 (9) Aug 05, 2011
I have a problem with this article. It sounds like the van Allen Belts are a new discovery, almost discovered by the authors.

In reality, more than 50 years ago, the very first satellite that the U.S. ever launched (1958, Explorer 1), was designed to make specific measurements to detect whether the van Allen Belts existed.

Before the first Moon landings, there was considerable debate over the health effects for the astronauts, because they could not avoid going through those belts.
barakn
5 / 5 (2) Aug 05, 2011
the inner belt would consist of much larger particles, such as antiprotons because the force of gravity would be able to hold them in.

No. The inner belt has protons and antiprotons because the atmosphere is the source of these, and naturally the belt is going to be close to the source.
david_42
5 / 5 (5) Aug 05, 2011
No, I admit some of the article is poorly phrased, but it is discussing a formation theory for the Van Allen belts, which includes the formation of anti-protons, not proving the existence of the belts.
epicurious
5 / 5 (3) Aug 05, 2011
PAMELA data show that the magnetospheric antiproton flux in the SAA exceeds the cosmic-ray antiproton flux by three orders of magnitude at the present solar minimum ...

That's from the More Information link above. 3x is VERY different from 3 orders of magnitudes. Where's the editing?
vidyunmaya
1 / 5 (4) Aug 05, 2011
Sub: space Science must go forward and Open mind
Van-Allen belts are known and Late Nobel-Laur. Alfven raises the quest- Cosmology east has the origins. now if you wish to analyze further- see Cosmology Vedas Interlinks-books from 1993-2011 in http://cosmologyt...pot.com/
Save Earth Planet and Life Support. you are welcome to contact me-Vidyardhi Nanduri
MorituriMax
4.3 / 5 (4) Aug 05, 2011
generated by the sun and other little understand sources


..Really? A tiny bit of grammar checking please?

...how about, "generated by the sun and other little underSTOOD sources"

Do you see where I going with this? 8 )
Silverhill
5 / 5 (3) Aug 05, 2011
Also, for those concerned with correct grammar as well as correct physics, the proper verb that is needed in the first two paragraphs is "composed", not "comprised".
The parts compose the whole; the whole comprises the parts.
Skultch
not rated yet Aug 05, 2011
So, does this help to disprove the theory that pockets of antimatter are what's driving cosmic expansion?
Deesky
4.5 / 5 (8) Aug 06, 2011
So, does this help to disprove the theory that pockets of antimatter are what's driving cosmic expansion?

No, nor does it bolster the 'theory'.
Sin_Amos
5 / 5 (3) Aug 06, 2011
Van Allen makes belts? I only thought he made shoes. Anti-vuittons.
Callippo
1 / 5 (6) Aug 06, 2011
In my theory the antiparticles should really concentrate around massive bodies in form of dark matter clouds (or circles, when such body is rotating).

http://apod.nasa....516.html
Skultch
5 / 5 (4) Aug 06, 2011
In my theory the antiparticles should really concentrate around massive bodies in form of dark matter clouds (or circles, when such body is rotating).

http://apod.nasa....516.html


Care to address the implications of THIS article on your "theory?" Naaahhhh. That kind of self-skepticism would be science. Who needs that?
Skultch
not rated yet Aug 06, 2011
So, does this help to disprove the theory that pockets of antimatter are what's driving cosmic expansion?

No, nor does it bolster the 'theory'.


I'm probably missing something here, but it's at least relevant, right? Doesn't this maybe disprove antimatter having repulsive gravity? How could there still be room for that? Or, could there still be another property that causes antimatter to repel normal?
Ricochet
not rated yet Aug 06, 2011
So... if we were able to put antiprotons in-between the hulls of a double-hulled ship, could that theoretically protect astronauts from solar winds and such?
PaulRadcliff
not rated yet Aug 07, 2011
CPT violations already are 99.55% proven. Scientific review usually requires 99.97% proof to be accepted as factual. Not much uncertainty left to eliminate. K-mesons and K-pions have less than 1% CPT violations, which is not too much to disprove the Standard Model, but there are other particles that have over one percent CPT violation and this DOES vring the accuracy of the Standard Model into question. We have many misconceptions concerning the marriage of Quantum Physics and Newtonian Standard Model physics. Quantum entanglement needs more why and how explanation, as well.
QuantaUniverseCom
1 / 5 (2) Aug 07, 2011
charged particles and electromagnetic forces surround the earth and planets, and gravity is not real, but a pseudo force in relativity taken to be analogous to charge in maxwell's equations. Likely these antimatter belts of both positrons and antiprotons are responsible for what appears to be gravity for planetary orbits
holoman
not rated yet Aug 07, 2011
Wouldn't it be interesting if the antimatter was needed
for gravity to exist.
elgsus
not rated yet Aug 10, 2011
gravity is not real, but a pseudo force in relativity taken to be analogous to charge in maxwell's equations.


I'll give you an example of a 'pseudo force' - Centrifugal Force. That's a pseudo force.

Here's "Maxwell's Equations" and how they relate to gravitation (which is not at all)

1) Gauss's Law: Simply states the electromagnetic model and the orientation of charged particles, as well as their interaction through Gaussian surfaces.
2) Gauss's Law for Magnetism: Same as above, just dealing with magnetic fields (which are electric fields - it all depends on perspective)
3) Faraday's Law: Basically states that for a magnetic field to create an electric field, there must be a fluctuation of magnetic field strength over time
4) Ampere's Law: A changing magnetic field induces an electrical field, and a changing electric field induces a magnetic field.

The definitions of these laws do not explain anything about gravity, let alone even mention it.

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