Astrophysicists Solve Mystery of How Antimatter in the Milky Way Forms

Scientists Solve Mystery of How Antimatter in the Milky Way Forms

The Milky Way. Credit: Roanish, Flickr

In a newly published study led by Australian National University, astrophysicists reveal how most of the antimatter in the Milky Way forms.

Antimatter is material composed of the antiparticle partners of ordinary matter – when antimatter meets with matter, they quickly annihilate each other to form a burst of energy in the form of gamma-rays.

Scientists have known since the early 1970s that the inner parts of the Milky Way galaxy are a strong source of gamma-rays, indicating the existence of antimatter, but there had been no settled view on where the antimatter came from.

ANU researcher Dr. Roland Crocker said the team had shown that the cause was a series of weak supernova explosions over millions of years, each created by the convergence of two white dwarfs which are ultra-compact remnants of stars no larger than two suns.

“Our research provides new insight into a part of the Milky Way where we find some of the oldest stars in our galaxy,” said Dr. Crocker from the ANU Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics.

Dr. Crocker said the team had ruled out the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way and the still-mysterious dark matter as being the sources of the antimatter.

He said the antimatter came from a system where two white dwarfs form a binary system and collide with each other. The smaller of the binary stars loses mass to the larger star and ends its life as a helium white dwarf, while the larger star ends as a carbon-oxygen white dwarf.

“The binary system is granted one final moment of extreme drama: as the white dwarfs orbit each other, the system loses energy to gravitational waves causing them to spiral closer and closer to each other,” Dr. Crocker said.

He said once they became too close the carbon-oxygen white dwarf ripped apart the companion star whose helium quickly formed a dense shell covering the bigger star, quickly leading to a thermonuclear supernova that was the source of the antimatter.

Reference: “Diffuse Galactic antimatter from faint thermonuclear supernovae in old stellar populations” by Roland M. Crocker, Ashley J. Ruiter, Ivo R. Seitenzahl, Fiona H. Panther, Stuart Sim, Holger Baumgardt, Anais Möller, David M. Nataf, Lilia Ferrario, J. J. Eldridge, Martin White, Brad E. Tucker and Felix Aharonian, 22 May 2017, Nature Astronomy.
DOI: 10.1038/s41550-017-0135

6 Comments on "Astrophysicists Solve Mystery of How Antimatter in the Milky Way Forms"

  1. Herman (Dusty) Rhodes | May 23, 2017 at 5:25 pm | Reply

    My thoughts of how antimatter formed are different from anyone’s. But that’s OK becuse no one knows how it gored but me … 🙂 … My thoughts are from Proverbs 8:22-31 where King Solomon said that there were larege swirls and small swirls and it talks about a fountain of particles or elements. Now this is not in the translation but in the Hebrew and Greek text. The KJV translators did not understand it so they used the wrong definitions. In my understanding the swirls are quasars and the fountains are their jets. To make a long story short matter is spewed from one side and antimatter from the other. My website explains it in detail.

    • Herman (Dusty) Rhodes | May 23, 2018 at 2:13 pm | Reply

      During the past 30 years, I have been working on a book called “The Seed of the Universe”. It is based on the ancient Hebrew and Greek text of the age old Bible as well as the current events in science. You can go on my Google Profile and find a link to the whole book. In my book it says that in the Beginning, the infinite structure, a design of God, created elementary particles throughout the universe at the same exact time. The particles created black holes from gravity, then the primordal black holes grouped togather and created supermassive black holes. They created quasars that produced Hydrogen and antihydrogen from their jests which traveled close to the speed of light in opposite directions. This created two universes one of matter and the other of antimatter moving apart at close to the speed of light. This has been going on for billions of years so we will not be able to find equal amounts of antimatter now days.

  2. Herman (Dusty) Rhodes | August 27, 2018 at 7:08 pm | Reply

    I have just completed my first edit on my book, The Seed of the Universe. You can find it on my Google profile that contains this link, …

  3. Herman (Dusty) Rhodes | October 25, 2018 at 6:26 pm | Reply

    I have completed my third edit which made the book 60 pages thicker.

  4. Herman (Dusty) Rhodes | January 5, 2019 at 9:23 am | Reply

    I have completed the third edit with a new link on Google Plus.
    I just discovered that I had to open it up for sharing so that anyone can open it. This link should do the trick.

  5. Herman (Dusty) Rhodes | October 11, 2019 at 6:54 pm | Reply

    Now Google plus has taken down all of the personal posts and my book went along with the rest. … However … I managed to figure out how to get the entire book on my Wix website in the PDF format. I have an individual icon for each chapter along with a video of the pyramid of chemical elements. I also gave each individual element that I photographed from my model when I was building it, one element at a time.

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