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Out Of Mind » SOLAR & PLANETARY ALERTS & INFO » ATMOSPHERIC CHANGES » TWILIGHT ZONE: "Sounds Like A Tale From The Bermuda Triangle,

TWILIGHT ZONE: "Sounds Like A Tale From The Bermuda Triangle,

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TWILIGHT ZONE: "Sounds Like A Tale From The Bermuda Triangle,... This Was So Strange,... Something Never Seen Before,..." - Atmospheric Physicist Pilots Plane Through Mysterious ANTIMATTER Thundercloud?!

NASA image of antimatter being emitted from clouds.  © NASA

"Heavenly shades of night are falling, it's twilight time
Out of the mist your voice is calling, 'tis twilight time
When purple-colored curtains mark the end of day
I'll hear you, my dear, at twilight time"
- Twilight Time, The Platters.

- In what sounds like a tale from the Bermuda Triangle, an atmospheric physicist, called Joseph Dwyer, was flying through a massive thunderstorm, when he suddenly found himself in the middle of a huge cloud of antimatter. The physicist was piloting a modified Gulfstream V plane on a scientific mission and came across the strange phenomenon by accident.

Dwyer and his co-pilot mistook a line of thunderstorms for the Georgia coast on their radar, but by the time they realized this, they had no way out.

As they entered the heart of the storm, the scientific instruments on board suddenly began to register something totally unexpected.

Screenshot NASA YouTube video thunderclouds. © NASA

The plane was being surrounded by positron-electron explosions causing peaks of high-energy, photon gamma rays - a clear sign of antimatter.

The plane plunged downward and began to shake violently. "I really thought I was going to die," Dwyer said.

So what is antimatter?

ExtremeTech explains that;
"Antimatter is the name we give to particles with the same mass, but opposite charge, as the particles of which we are composed. When an antiparticle comes in contact with its corresponding "normal" particle, they annihilate each other and release gamma rays. In this case, the team detected a large number of positrons (the antiparticle of an electron) in that storm."
But the positrons in the storm seemed to somehow steer themselves towards the plane, and what force did that remains a mystery.

It is possible the plane itself was interacting with the antimatter. Nature says that the positrons could have been annihilated in the immediate vicinity of the aircraft, or even on the plane itself.

Aleksandr Gurevich, an atmospheric physicist at the Lebedev Physical Institute in Moscow, suggests that the plane's wings could have become charged, producing extremely intense electric fields around them, causing the creation of positrons.

The incident actually took place in 2009, but the story has only just come out, because scientists have been at a loss to explain what happened - and they still don't have all the answers.

Image of an actual matter-antimatter annihilation due to an atom of antihydrogen captured during a CERN experiment. © CERN

Dwyer, from the University of New Hampshire in Durham, told Nature;
"This was so strange that we sat on this observation for several years."
Scientists are sure the findings were not the result of some instrument malfunction. They have no doubt that Dwyer's plane correctly detected antimatter.

"The team's data are a "cast-iron signature" of positrons, said Jasper Kirkby, a particle physicist at the CERN particle-physics laboratory near Geneva, Switzerland.

However, the data which was recorded is puzzling.

In particular, the size of the antimatter cloud was astounding. It measured between one to 2 km (1.25 miles) across - something never seen before, and experts still don't have an adequate explanation for that.

Super cell thunderstorm. © NOAA

"We tried for five years to model the production of the positrons," and failed, says Dwyer.

Antimatter, in general, is extremely rare. When it enters the Earth's atmosphere, it usually comes in the form of cosmic rays from outer space.

However, it is known that thunderstorms can also produce some anti-matter. NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope has recorded electrons in a thunderstorm accelerating to close to the speed of light. The electron-positrons then collide with an atom nucleus and emit gamma rays. (see video below) However, nothing has been seen on this level before.

WATCH: Fermi sees antimatter-hurling thunderstorms.

What also baffles scientists is that, although the plane detected gamma ray spikes, the overall energy of the gamma rays present was insufficient to have produced the huge amount of antimatter recorded. So they don't know what mechanism was involved.

Kirkby says that estimates of the size of the cloud might be too high, and that deeper investigations and experiments need to be made.

Dwyer and his colleagues are sending special balloons into the center of severe thunderstorms to find out more.

Nature also reports that the US National Science Foundation plans to fly a particle detector on an A-10 'Warthog' into storms - something described as an armored anti-tank plane that could withstand the extreme environment.

The thing is - it isn't just the antimatter which is mysterious - but that we lack sufficient scientific knowledge of what happens in thunderstorms in general.

Dwyer said;

"The insides of thunder­storms are like bizarre landscapes that we have barely begun to explore." - Digital Journal.

"Deepening shadows gather splendor as day is done
Fingers of night will soon surrender the setting sun twilight time"
- Twilight Time, The Platters.

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