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How the Antimatter-Hunting Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer Works (Infographic)

Take an in-depth look at the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer will hunt dark matter, cosmic rays and antimatter galaxies.

Scientists using a space-based device for analyzing cosmic rays say that they may have seen evidence of mysterious dark matter particles annihilating each other. Dark matter emits no light and hasn’t been seen previously by instruments, yet it seems to exist in a vastly larger amount than regular matter in the universe.

Unlike instruments on the ground, the Earth-orbiting Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer-2 investigates cosmic particles that do not survive the passage through the Earth’s atmosphere. AMS-2 is the largest and most powerful such instrument ever put in space.

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AMS-2 uses a large magnet to create a magnetic field that will bend the path of cosmic particles. Eight detector instruments provide information on the particles as they pass through, potentially detecting antimatter or dark matter in the mix.

See the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer in Space (Photos)

Delivered to the International Space Station by space shuttle Endeavour in 2011, AMS-2 was installed on the station’s truss by astronauts using the robot arms on both shuttle and station.

A positron is the antimatter counterpart to the electron. Antimatter and matter annihilate each other on contact, releasing enormous amounts of energy.

AMS-2 measured the positron fraction, or the ratio of positrons to the combined flux of electrons and positrons.

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A lack of anisotropy suggests that the energetic positrons are not coming from a single source in space. Together, this suggests to physicists that the energetic positrons may be coming from the annihilation of dark matter particles.

Antimatter is made of particles identical to regular matter, but with the opposite electrical and magnetic  properties. Matter and antimatter annihilate each other on contact. A big question in physics is: Where is all the antimatter?

Galaxy clusters seem to contain five times more mass than we can see directly. From this, scientists infer the existence of dark matter, which would make up 27 percent of all the matter in the universe. [8 Baffling Astronomy Mysteries]

A strangelet is a theoretical configuration of basic particles called “up,” “down” and “strange” quarks. Strangelets could range from the size of subatomic particles, to particles as big as a star.Scientists using a space-based device for analyzing cosmic rays say that they may have seen evidence of mysterious dark matter particles annihilating each other. Dark matter emits no light and hasn’t been seen previously by instruments, yet it seems to exist in a vastly larger amount than regular matter in the universe.

Unlike instruments on the ground, the Earth-orbiting Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer-2 investigates cosmic particles that do not survive the passage through the Earth’s atmosphere. AMS-2 is the largest and most powerful such instrument ever put in space.

AMS-2 uses a large magnet to create a magnetic field that will bend the path of cosmic particles. Eight detector instruments provide information on the particles as they pass through, potentially detecting antimatter or dark matter in the mix.

Delivered to the International Space Station by space shuttle Endeavour in 2011, AMS-2 was installed on the station’s truss by astronauts using the robot arms on both shuttle and station.

A positron is the antimatter counterpart to the electron. Antimatter and matter annihilate each other on contact, releasing enormous amounts of energy.

AMS-2 measured the positron fraction, or the ratio of positrons to the combined flux of electrons and positrons.

A lack of anisotropy suggests that the energetic positrons are not coming from a single source in space. Together, this suggests to physicists that the energetic positrons may be coming from the annihilation of dark matter particles.

Antimatter is made of particles identical to regular matter, but with the opposite electrical and magnetic  properties. Matter and antimatter annihilate each other on contact. A big question in physics is: Where is all the antimatter?

Galaxy clusters seem to contain five times more mass than we can see directly. From this, scientists infer the existence of dark matter, which would make up 27 percent of all the matter in the universe.

A strangelet is a theoretical configuration of basic particles called "up," "down" and "strange" quarks. Strangelets could range from the size of subatomic particles, to particles as big as a star.

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