Is Dark Matter Decay Causing Antimatter to Smash into Planet Earth?

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In Brief


Positrons, a kind of antimatter, have been slamming into Earth’s ambiance. Scientists are divided on precisely why that is occurring, however latest observations shed new mild.

Antimatter Abundance

In 2008, the space-based instrument PAMELA detected one thing uncommon in Earth’s ambiance — an amazing and shocking abundance of positrons, a type of antimatter also known as the antielectron. These positrons stop to exist as quickly as they encounter electrons (when matter and equal/reverse antimatter collide, they annihilate each other), however the query remained: the place have been all of those positrons coming from?

Scientists beforehand thought that the antimatter originated from sure comparatively close-by pulsars, the fast-spinning stays of previously enormous stars. But new proof suggests the positrons may probably originate from the darkish matter decay. Dark matter is the mysterious substance that makes up a lot of our universe however stays unseen.

Rubén López Coto of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics, one creator of a latest paper on the proposed supply, instructed National Geographic: “When I started this work, I really believed it was pulsars. But these two pulsars actually cannot provide enough positrons in order to account for this positron excess.”

Not everybody within the physics group is able to let go of the likelihood that pulsars are in charge, particularly since darkish matter’s very existence is a extremely debated and contested thriller. Continued badist of the pulsar answer is embodied by Dan Hooper of the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, who instructed National Geographic that, “I am as convinced as ever that these pulsars are contributing very significantly to the local positron excess, and very well could dominate it.”

Mysterious Interactions

New observations on this matter have been made by the High Altitude Water Cherenkov (HAWC) Gamma-Ray Observatory, which is made up of large water tanks. When high-energy particles hit these 300 tanks, their temporary mild carries a signature that helps scientists to hint their origin. HAWC has been gathering knowledge to discover the cosmic origins of those particles since 2015.

According to López Coto, the brand new knowledge means that the 2 close by pulsars linked with the particles aren’t able to creating positrons quick sufficient to make it to Earth.

The HAWC Observatory, where new observations were made of antimatter hitting our atmosphere, potentially from dark matter decay.
The HAWC Observatory. (Image Credit: Jordanagoodman / Wikimedia Commons)

The research workforce said that maybe, if these problems with origin persist, the positrons may originate from “other pulsars, other types of cosmic accelerators such as microquasars and supernova remnants, or the annihilation or decay of dark matter particles.”

However, Hooper and others stay sure that there stays a pulsar-related origin. So far, there is no such thing as a actual rationalization of those antimatter particles, although continued observations will permit scientists to hone in on what is likely to be seemingly.

Tracy Slatyer, a theoretical physicist at MIT, personally believes that darkish matter decay isn’t the strongest case. However, he instructed National Geographic: “My personal bet is that it’s probably not dark matter annihilation. But if somebody told me, I’ve come back from a hundred years in the future with a time machine, and that’s the case, I’d be surprised, but wouldn’t be like, no, that’s impossible.”

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