Anti-Matter Breakthrough — Pulsars Might Be Involved

Astronomers have been observing one of the closest pulsars to Earth with the idea that it may offer several clues to one of the unanswered questions that have scientists confused for some time now.
According to a new study, titled “Detection of a gamma-ray halo around Geminga with the Fermi-LAT data and implications for the positron flux,” researchers may have found the answer. The study brings to light the reason for the presence of an abundance of anti-matter near, an old decade mystery.

A team of astronomers had been watching Geminga, one of the nearest pulsars to Earth, with a bizarre halo around it. The Geminga pulsar is about 800 light-years away in the constellation Gemini and is also very bright in gamma rays.

“Our analysis suggests that this same pulsar could be responsible for a decade-long puzzle about why one type of cosmic particle is unusually abundant near Earth,” said Mattia Di Mauro, an astrophysicist at the Catholic University of America in Washington and NASA’sNASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

“These are positrons, the anti-matter version of electrons, coming from somewhere beyond the solar system,” said Di Mauro, who led a small team of scientists studying a decade’s worth of Geminga data.

Pulsars might be behind the anti-matter in the Universe

Pulsar Geminga’sGeminga’s halo is not visible to our eyes since it is in the gamma wavelength, but it is imposingly large, covering the equivalent of 40 full Moons. The abundance of anti-matter near Earth may be caused due to this halo, suspect astronomers.

The pulsar is encircled by a cloud of electrons and positrons since a neutron star has a strong electromagnetic field.

This intense field pulls the particles from the pulsar’s surface and accelerates them, resulting in cosmic rays that are subject to the effects of magnetic fields. However, by the time cosmic rays reach Earth, astronomers are unable to determine their source.

“Our work demonstrates the importance of studying individual sources to predict how they contribute to cosmic rays. This is one aspect of the exciting new field called multimessenger astronomy, where we study the universe using multiple signals, like cosmic rays, in addition to light”, said Di Mauro.

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