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March 21, 2010

European Satellite Measured Antiproton Flux in Low Earth Orbit

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The satellite experiment Payload for Antimatter Matter Exploration and Light-nuclei Astrophysics (PAMELA) has measured the antiproton-to-proton flux ratio in cosmic rays with energies up to 100 GeV.

The PAMELA experiment has been in low Earth-orbit on the Resurs-DK1 satellite since its launch in June 2006 (CERN Courier September 2006 p8). During 500 days of data collection it has identified 1000 antiprotons with energies in the range 1–100 GeV, including 100 antiprotons with an energy above 20 GeV. This is a larger data sample at higher energies than any other experiment has obtained.



Analysis of the data from PAMELA show that the antiproton-to-proton flux ratio rises smoothly to about 10 GeV, before tending to level off. The results match well with theoretical calculations that assume only secondary production of antiprotons by cosmic rays propagating through the galaxy. This places limits on contributions from other, more exotic sources.


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