Dark matter produces antimatter that can cross the galaxy

A groundbreaking experiment gives scientists new hope that some antinuclei could withstand interstellar travel without perishing.
Kavita Verma
Animation of point of contact between matter and antimatter, transmission of energy.
Animation of point of contact between matter and antimatter, transmission of energy.

Have you ever wondered if there is a way for particles to travel across the galaxy without being destroyed by interstellar dust and radiation? It sounds like something out of a science fiction movie, but it could soon be possible thanks to antimatter particles and dark matter.

How can antimatter particles cross the galaxy?

Across the universe, antimatter is an elusive and unpredictable force – it annihilates when meeting ordinary matter, creating a cosmic obstacle course of destruction. 

But in a recent groundbreaking experiment at particle collider facilities, scientists uncovered hope that some antinuclei could withstand interstellar travel without perishing. 

These nuclei are theorized to form from collisions between high-energy cosmic rays and atoms floating through space, as well as when dark matter particles collide. If these tiny fragments can survive such extraordinary voyages, they may unlock new understandings regarding the mysterious substance that makes up most of our galaxy – dark matter!

LHC findings with the use of ALICE

Stefan Königstorfer of Germany's the Technical University of Munich, and his colleagues at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) sought to see if antinuclei generated in space could reach detectors in Earth's vicinity intact.

In a daring experiment at the CERN laboratory in Switzerland, researchers set out to measure something seemingly impossible: antihelium nuclei destruction. 

Using the ALICE detector, they carefully counted collisions of high-energy protons with atoms that should have produced equal numbers of helium and antihelium nuclei. By inferring how many antinuclei were annihilated against materials composed of certain detectors – steel, carbon, and more – scientists were able to determine just what happens when these particles come into contact with ordinary matter!

The findings could help to answer long-standing questions about the nature of antimatter and its role in the universe.  

The computer simulations developed by Königstorfer and his colleagues showed that the "disappearance probability" of antimatter particles is surprisingly low. They found that even after traveling vast distances through interstellar space, up to 50 percent of anti-nuclei created by dark matter would remain intact when coming close to Earth.

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Low-energy antinuclei on Earth come from dark matter

It has been found that the antinuclei created by cosmic rays are featured with higher energies than those created by dark matter. Only the highly energetic antinuclei could reach the Earth in high numbers. 

Understanding the mysterious origin of dark matter is a key priority in modern science, according to researchers worldwide. 

Jonas Tjemsland from Norway asserts that any antihelium nuclei detected here on Earth are likely derived from this enigma. 

Similarly, Tim Linden's study showed how standard detectors could detect dark matter with an impressive signal-to-noise ratio if produced by astrophysical sources. 

Stefano Profumo adds that delving deeper into antinucleus formation could prove invaluable in better understanding and subsequently defining theories concerning dark matter itself.

Experiments led by Königstorfer and his team are pioneering studies to help answer one of the biggest questions in science today: Do antimatter particles exist? 

Just recently, on board the International Space Station, a detector known as Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer detected potential antinuclei signatures. 

Their efforts continue with another detector dubbed General AntiParticle Spectrometer, which will be sent up on a balloon above Antarctica!

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