Astrophysics (Index)About

antimatter

(similar to normal matter but with opposite electrical charge)

Antimatter is a rare, separate type of matter formed of particles with some of their quantum numbers being the opposite of those in corresponding normal matter, among these differing quantum numbers being electrical charge. When a normal matter particle encounters its antimatter analog particle (antiparticle), they destroy each other (known as particle-antiparticle annihilation, or just annihilation) the energy is converted to other particles, generally photons.

Antimatter is extremely rare locally and it is assumed that the observed universe is basically normal matter, i.e., there exists a matter-antimatter asymmetry in the universe. The annihilation reaction of matter and antimatter together produces extremely high energy photons, and there are sensors that can detect them. Cosmic rays, which appear to come from distant parts of the universe, do not produce enough such photons when striking the Earth's atmosphere to suggest anywhere near an equal balance among the sources of the particles, nor are such photons from distant sources sensed in numbers that would indicate many incidents of annihilation in such distant locations. There is no consensus as to this asymmetry's cause, though cosmological theories term the causation event baryogenesis, presumed to have occurred in the very early universe.

Antimatter particles include the positron (i.e., antielectron, like an electron but positively charged), the antiproton, the antineutron, antineutrinos, and antiquarks. The particles can be combined to form "anti atoms", e.g., antihydrogen, and this has been done experimentally.

In minute quantities, positrons and antineutrinos are commonly produced by beta decay (thus in nucleosynthesis) and other antimatter particles are commonly formed by high-energy collisions, e.g., in particle accelerators, and by cosmic rays striking ordinary matter. The particles are short-lived when surrounded by normal matter.


(physics)
Further reading:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antimatter
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baryogenesis

Referenced by pages:
alpha particle
beta decay
Cherenkov radiation
CNO cycle
dark matter annihilation
Hawking radiation
no-hair theorem
pair production
PAMELA
particle
quark
scintillator

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