News by Date
News by Category
Solar System
Stars
White Dwarfs
Supernovas
Neutron Stars
Black Holes
Milky Way Galaxy
Normal Galaxies
Quasars
Galaxy Clusters
Cosmology/Deep Field
Miscellaneous
Press Resources
Status Reports
Press Advisories
Image Releases
Release Guidelines
Image Use Policy
NASA TV
Biographies/Interviews
Web Shortcuts
Chandra Blog
RSS Feed
Chronicle
Email Newsletter
News & Noteworthy
Image Use Policy
Questions & Answers
Glossary of Terms
Download Guide
Get Adobe Reader
Related Links

Chandra @ NASA
Visit the Chandra pages at the NASA portal (opens in new window)
Image Use
Image Use Policy & Request Form
Guidelines for utilizing images, applets, movies, and animations featured in this Web Site.
Getting Hard Copies of Images
Ways to obtain photos, slides, etc of Chandra images.
Searching for Primordial Antimatter

For Release: October 30, 2008

CXC Release

Abell 521 Image Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/CfA/M.Markevitch et al.; Optical: NASA/STScI; Magellan/U.Arizona/D.Clowe et al.
Press Image and Caption

Scientists are on the hunt for evidence of antimatter - matter's arch nemesis - leftover from the very early Universe. New results using data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and Compton Gamma Ray Observatory suggest the search may have just become even more difficult.

Antimatter is made up of elementary particles, each of which has the same mass as their corresponding matter counterparts --protons, neutrons and electrons -- but the opposite charges and magnetic properties. When matter and antimatter particles collide, they annihilate each other and produce energy according to Einstein's famous equation, E=mc2.

According to the Big Bang model, the Universe was awash in particles of both matter and antimatter shortly after the Big Bang. Most of this material annihilated, but because there was slightly more matter than antimatter - less than one part per billion - only matter was left behind, at least in the local Universe.

Trace amounts of antimatter are believed to be produced by powerful phenomena such as relativistic jets powered by black holes and pulsars, but no evidence has yet been found for antimatter remaining from the infant Universe.

How could any primordial antimatter have survived? Just after the Big Bang there was believed to be an extraordinary period, called inflation, when the Universe expanded exponentially in just a fraction of a second.

"If clumps of matter and antimatter existed next to each other before inflation, they may now be separated by more than the scale of the observable Universe, so we would never see them meet," said Gary Steigman of The Ohio State University, who conducted the study. "But, they might be separated on smaller scales, such as those of superclusters or clusters, which is a much more interesting possibility."

In that case, collisions between two galaxy clusters, the largest gravitationally-bound structures in the Universe, might show evidence for antimatter. X-ray emission shows how much hot gas is involved in such a collision. If some of the gas from either cluster has particles of antimatter, then there will be annihilation and the X-rays will be accompanied by gamma rays.

Steigman used data obtained by Chandra and Compton to study the so-called Bullet Cluster, where two large clusters of galaxies have crashed into one another at extremely high velocities. At a relatively close distance and with a favorable side-on orientation as viewed from Earth, the Bullet Cluster provides an excellent test site to search for the signal for antimatter.

People Who Read This Also Read...

Could not Run Add On: error occured.