The largest-ever experiment in space has reported the collection of some 18 billion "cosmic ray" events that may help unravel the Universe's mysteries.The data haul is far greater than the total number of cosmic rays recorded in a full century of looking to date. Run from a centre at Cern, the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) aims to spot dark matter and exotic antimatter.
At the heart of the seven-tonne, $2bn machine is a giant, specially designed magnet which bends the paths of extraordinarily high-energy charged particles called cosmic rays onto a series of detectors, giving hints of what the particles are. A series of ever-larger particle accelerators built here on Earth aim to drive particles to ever-higher energies, smashing them into one another to simulate the same processes that create them elsewhere in the cosmos. No Earth-bound experiment can match nature's power as a particle accelerator - and Earth's atmosphere absorbs incoming cosmic rays - so the AMS will catch some of these high-energy particles "from the source", as a kind of complement to the likes of the Large Hadron Collider.
Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald