Terrestrial Gamma-ray Flashes Create Antimatter

  • Released Monday, January 10th, 2011
  • Updated Wednesday, May 3rd, 2023 at 1:53PM
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NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope has detected beams of antimatter launched by thunderstorms. Acting like enormous particle accelerators, the storms can emit gamma-ray flashes, called TGFs, and high-energy electrons and positrons. Scientists now think that most TGFs produce particle beams and antimatter.

For additional animations showing bremsstrahlung and pair production gamma ray reactions, go here.

For more visualizations showing Fermi's TGF detections, go to#3747, #3748, and #3756.

For animations of the Fermi spacecraft and matter/antimatter, go to#10707 and #10651.

On Dec. 14, 2009, while NASA's Fermi flew over Egypt, the spacecraft intercepted a particle beam from a terrestrial gamma-ray flash (TGF) that occurred over its horizon. Fermi's Gamma-ray Burst Monitor detected the signal of positrons annihilating on the spacecraft — not once, but twice. After passing Fermi, some of the particles reflected off of a magnetic "mirror" point and returned.

On Dec. 14, 2009, while NASA's Fermi flew over Egypt, the spacecraft intercepted a particle beam from a terrestrial gamma-ray flash (TGF) that occurred over its horizon. Fermi's Gamma-ray Burst Monitor detected the signal of positrons annihilating on the spacecraft — not once, but twice. After passing Fermi, some of the particles reflected off of a magnetic "mirror" point and returned.

On Dec. 14, 2009, while NASA's Fermi flew over Egypt, the spacecraft intercepted a particle beam from a terrestrial gamma-ray flash (TGF) that occurred over its horizon. Fermi's Gamma-ray Burst Monitor detected the signal of positrons annihilating on the spacecraft — not once, but twice. After passing Fermi, some of the particles reflected off of a magnetic "mirror" point and returned.  No Labels.

On Dec. 14, 2009, while NASA's Fermi flew over Egypt, the spacecraft intercepted a particle beam from a terrestrial gamma-ray flash (TGF) that occurred over its horizon. Fermi's Gamma-ray Burst Monitor detected the signal of positrons annihilating on the spacecraft — not once, but twice. After passing Fermi, some of the particles reflected off of a magnetic "mirror" point and returned. No Labels.

Artist interpretation of the cloud of electrons and positrons passing through the Fermi satellite and causing it to emit gamma rays.

Artist interpretation of the cloud of electrons and positrons passing through the Fermi satellite and causing it to emit gamma rays.

Map of all terrestrial gamma-ray flashes detected by Fermi's Gamma-ray Burst Monitor through the end of 2010.For animated version, go here,

Map of all terrestrial gamma-ray flashes detected by Fermi's Gamma-ray Burst Monitor through the end of 2010.

For animated version, go here,

This image from the Meteosat 9 weather satellite was taken on Dec. 14, 2009, about 7 minutes after Fermi detected positrons from a TGF. No storms are present over Egypt, where Fermi was located at the time of the event, but thunderstorms are plentiful over Zambia. Credit: SSEC/Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison

This image from the Meteosat 9 weather satellite was taken on Dec. 14, 2009, about 7 minutes after Fermi detected positrons from a TGF. No storms are present over Egypt, where Fermi was located at the time of the event, but thunderstorms are plentiful over Zambia.

Credit: SSEC/Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison

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NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. However, each image should be credited as indicated above.


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This visualization originally appeared on the following tapes:
  • Fermi TGF Antimatter (ID: 2010083)
    Thursday, July 15, 2010 at 4:00AM
    Produced by - Robert Crippen

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