Lightning, with a chance of antimatter

  • The lightning can result in matter-antimatter annihilation.
  • The researchers describe how gamma rays from lightning react with the air to produce radioisotopes and even positrons — the antimatter equivalent of electrons.
  • The thunderclouds and lightning emit gamma rays, and hypothesized that they would react in some way with the nuclei of environmental elements in the atmosphere.
  • Gamma detectors have been place and observed by the researchers.
  • There are three different types of Gamma ray Bursts. he first was less than one millisecond in duration; the second was a gamma-ray afterglow that decayed over several dozens of milliseconds; and finally there was a prolonged emission lasting about one minute.
  • The first burst was from the lightning strike.
  • The second afterglow, for example, was caused by lightning reacting with nitrogen in the atmosphere. The gamma rays emitted in lightning have enough energy to knock a neutron out of atmospheric nitrogen, and it was the reabsorption of this neutron by particles in the atmosphere that produced the gamma-ray afterglow.
  • The final, prolonged emission was from the breakdown of now neutron-poor and unstable nitrogen atoms. These released positrons, which subsequently collided with electrons in annihilation events releasing gamma rays.

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