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Let's assume that Earth in its current state is suddenly replaced with the Earth completely identical, but made entirely of antimatter. Ignoring meteorites and asteroids which would cause mass destruction, extinction events and whatnot, what would the night sky look like as the anti-Earth swept up the space dust?
I think night sky will be the same as it look today. But if only earth is the only antimatter present in the solar system then it will destroyed after some time and converted into energy. As we know antimatter + matter = energy. But the night sky will be as same as today.
It's kind of a strange question but I'll give it a shot.
It depend, kind of obviously, on how much of the "space dust" hits the earth. Estimates vary pretty widely on how much dust from space hits the Earth anyway, by this site, between 5 and 300 metric tons per day.
Lets start with the low end estimate, 5 metric tons (5,000 KG) per day. Antimatter will meet with and turn into energy an equal amount of matter, so 10,000 KG per day turned into energy, presumably almost all gamma-rays, but a lot of that energy would reflect off the upper atmosphere, lets estimate 40% of it reaches the earth, so 4,000 KG of gamma ray energy hits Earth from Space every day.
4,000 KG, * C^2 (300,000,000^2) = 3.6*10^20 joules of energy per day.
The sun (I'll just borrow from this link rather than calculate). 1.6x10^22, so, the heat from the matter-anti matter interactions would be 2% of sunlight. That would be enough to warm the earth measurably. A 2% increase in energy form space could warm the Earth several degrees, maybe 10 degrees, maybe more. The Earth would be measurably warmer, but that would be the least of our problems.
I think we can bring the number down a bit, cause you said no meteors, or asteroids, and even if you hadn't, larger objects like that in a matter-antimatter interaction, the contact would be so hot that most of the meteor wouldn't have a chance to evaporate but would simply be exploded away from the Earth, so we can round the number down quite a bit, like maybe a few hundred KG per day gets converted to gamma-rays and travels through the Earth's atmosphere and hits the Earth. At this stage, the total heat the Earth gets is negligible enough at those levels, but would the sky glow visibly at night? Honestly, I don't know, but maybe.
Gamma rays aren't visible, but as the rays pass through the atmosphere you might get enough visibly hot atmosphere/visible thermal radiation that you might see it. I don't know how to begin to calculate that, but it seems possible. The gamma ray effect would be similar to what would happen to the Earth if it was hit by a gamma ray burst (from a non lethal, but perhaps uncomfortably close distance). Here's a description of what that would be like. We'd lose much of our ozone layer and the chemical composition of our atmosphere would change. over time, it could end much of the life on the Earth's land. Life in the oceans could survive, but life on land would have a hard time.
That's not the only effect though. As a few hundred tons of antimatter hits the upper atmosphere, the upper atmosphere would heat up and the Earth would lose it's atmosphere due to higher temperature much faster. Over thousands, perhaps millions of years the Earth would lose much of it's atmosphere, which wouldn't be fun.
A final effect is that antimatter would change chemistry. If an Oxygen atom is hit it becomes a Nitrogen, if a Nitrogen is hit it becomes a carbon (I think, unless the gamma ray energy of the evaporation causes further photo-disintigration), but you'd see chemical changes as a result, perhaps some of them toxic and some radioactive isotopes. So, no ozone layer, gamma ray radiation and toxic chemicals forming in the upper atmosphere - not exactly sunshine and puppies.
Teeny-Tiny amounts of antimatter hitting the Earth isn't an issue, but in the amount you propose it would probably make the earth pretty inhospitable pretty fast.
What is dark matter in simple terms? New map of the night sky explained – and what it means for science
Researchers have created the largest ever map of dark matter, invisible material thought to account for up to 85 per cent of the total matter of the universe.
A team co-led by UCL researchers as part of the international Dark Energy Survey (DES), used artificial intelligence to analyse images of 100 million galaxies, looking at their shape, spots of light made up of 10 or so pixels, to see if they have been stretched.
Planets Visible in the Night Sky in California City, California, USA
Beta The Interactive Night Sky Map simulates the sky above California City on a date of your choice. Use it to locate a planet, the Moon, or the Sun and track their movements across the sky. The map also shows the phases of the Moon, and all solar and lunar eclipses. Need some help?
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Here are 2 easy ways to find the Andromeda galaxy
In mid-September 2020 – since the moon is gone from the sky in early evening (with new moon on September 17) – take a night to drive into the country and find the glorious Andromeda galaxy. It’s the great spiral galaxy next door to our Milky Way and the most distant object you can see with your eye alone. It’s best seen in the evening at this time of year. Most people find the galaxy by star-hopping from a very noticeable M- or W-shaped pattern on the sky’s dome – visible in the northeast in the evening now from the northern half of the globe – the constellation Cassiopeia the Queen. You can also find the Andromeda galaxy by star-hopping from the star Alpheratz in the Great Square of Pegasus. Both methods will lead you to the galaxy, as shown on our chart above.
Look at the chart at the top of this post. It shows both constellations – Cassiopeia and Andromeda – so you can see the galaxy’s location with respect to both.
Now locate the star Schedar in Cassiopeia. It’s the constellation’s brightest star, and it points to the galaxy. What could be easier?
Draw an imaginary line from the star Kappa Cassiopeiae (abbreviated Kappa) through the star Schedar, then go about 3 times the Kappa-Schedar distance to locate the Andromeda galaxy (Messier 31). For another view, click here .
Now let’s take a closer look at the second way to find this galaxy:
Use the Great Square of Pegasus to find the Andromeda galaxy. Here’s how to do it.
The large square pattern above is the Great Square in the constellation Pegasus. The constellation Andromeda can be seen as two streams of stars extending from one side of the Square, beginning at the star Alpheratz.
Notice Mirach, then Mu Andromedae. An imaginary line drawn through these two stars points to the Andromeda galaxy.
Just be aware – bright moonlight or city lights can overwhelm the faint glow of this object. The single most important thing you need to see the galaxy is a very dark sky.
What does the galaxy look like to the eye? Assuming you have a dark sky, it appears as a large fuzzy patch – bigger than a full moon in the sky – but vastly fainter and more subtle.
View larger. | The Andromeda galaxy (upper right of photo) as seen by EarthSky Facebook friend Ted Van at a Montana campsite in mid-August. Thank you, Ted!
For binocular astronomers: Binoculars, as always, enhance the view. Binoculars are an excellent choice for beginners to observe the Andromeda galaxy, because they are so easy to point. As you stand beneath a dark sky, locate the galaxy with your eye first, then slowly bring the binoculars up to your eyes so that the galaxy comes into binocular view. If that doesn’t work for you, try sweeping the area with your binoculars. Go slowly, and be sure your eyes are dark-adapted. The galaxy will appear as a fuzzy patch to the eye. It’ll appear brighter in binoculars. Can you see that its central region is more concentrated?
With the eye, or with binoculars, or even with a backyard telescope, the Andromeda galaxy won’t look like the image below. But it will be beautiful. It’ll take your breath away.
The Andromeda galaxy and two satellite galaxies as seen through a powerful telescope. To the eye, the galaxy looks like a fuzzy patch. It’s an island of stars in space, much like our Milky Way. Image via NOAO.
I’ve heard that the Andromeda galaxy will someday collide with our galaxy! Is that still a definite possibility?
Definite possibility describes much of what we know – or think we know – about the universe. As for the Andromeda galaxy and its future collision with our Milky Way: the first attempt to measure the radial velocity of this galaxy (its motion forward or back, along our line of sight) was made in 1912. After that, astronomers believed for some decades that the galaxy was approaching at nearly 200 miles per second (300 km/s), but later astronomers disagreed.
Then in May 2012, NASA astronomers announced they can now predict the time of this collision of titan galaxies with certainty. Remember, though, that the Andromeda Galaxy is 2.2 million light-years away, with a single light-year being almost 10 trillion kilometers (6 trillion miles). So although it does appear that this galaxy is approaching our Milky Way galaxy … it’s nothing to lose sleep over. When will they collide? According to NASA astronomers in 2012, it’ll be four billion years from now.
Plus when galaxies collide, they don’t exactly destroy each other. Because there’s so much more space than stars in our universe, colliding galaxies pass through each other, like ghosts.
This image represents Earth's night sky in 3.75 billion years. The Andromeda galaxy (left) will fill our field of view then, astronomers say, as it heads toward a collision with our Milky way galaxy. Image via NASA/ ESA/ Z. Levay and R. van der Marel, STScI/ T. Hallas/ A. Mellinger
Bottom line: The neighboring Andromeda galaxy – nearest large spiral galaxy to our Milky Way – will be visible on dark, moonless evenings from now until the beginning of northern spring. This post tells you two ways to find it, using the constellations Cassiopeia and Pegasus. Be sure you’re looking on a moonless night, far from city lights.
SpaceX's Starlink Could Change The Night Sky Forever, And Astronomers Are Not Happy
Each Starlink satellite is equipped with a large solar panel.
On Thursday, May 23, Elon Musk’s SpaceX successfully launched its first 60 Starlink satellites, a planned mega constellation of satellites designed to beam internet from space to the world. But since footage emerged of the train of satellites in the night sky, astronomers have been up in arms at the impact Starlink could have on our views of the cosmos.
Starlink is designed to eventually consist of 12,000 satellites, orbiting at altitudes of about 550 kilometers and 1,200 kilometers. SpaceX is one of nine companies known to be working on global space internet, and already concerns have been raised about space junk. Now astronomers too are worried about what the future may hold.
“The potential tragedy of a mega-constellation like Starlink is that for the rest of humanity it changes how the night sky looks,” says Ronald Drimmel from the Turin Astrophysical Observatory in Italy. “Starlink, and other mega constellations, would ruin the sky for everyone on the planet.”
Following the Starlink launch, several observers – including amateur astronomer Marco Langbroek – captured footage of the satellites in orbit. All 60 were deployed in a train, one behind the other, but astronomers were surprised that the satellites shone brighter than many had expected them to.
“What I had not anticipated was how bright the objects were and how spectacular a view it would be,” says Langbroek. “It really was an incredible and bizarre view to see that whole train of objects in a line moving across the sky.”
Observers were able to see the Starlink train moving through the night sky.
SpaceX had kept the logistics of each satellite under wraps prior to the launch, but following the launch it was revealed that each satellite had a relatively large solar panel, perfect for not only gathering but reflecting sunlight back to Earth. This means anyone looking up at the stars, from any location on Earth, would always have the final Starlink constellation in view, for better or worse.
“It turns out that these satellites are easy to see with our own eyes, much brighter than we were expecting,” says astrophysicist Darren Baskill from the University of Sussex in the U.K. “If we can see them with our eyes, that means they are extremely bright for the latest generation of large, sensitive ground-based telescopes.”
Such telescopes include the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST), currently under construction and designed to take wide sweeping views of the night sky to study a variety of bodies such as asteroids and comets.
While the true impact of Starlink isn’t known yet, it’s thought the LSST may have to deal with one Starlink satellite every few images, notes astrophysicist Bruce Macintosh from Stanford University in the U.S., resulting in a streak through the image. Such issues are not new to astronomers, but the sheer number of Starlink satellites is cause for concern.
“Part of the knee-jerk reaction across the astronomy community after the launch of the Starlink satellites was purely caused by a lack of information,” says astrophysicist Jessie Christiansen from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in the U.S. “A significant amount of the outcry could have been avoided if there had been an impact study done in advance.”
During the dead of night the satellites are unlikely to be visible, as they will be in darkness with no sunlight to reflect. But it’s in the hours after sunset and before sunrise that people are most worried, when the thousands of satellites will be reflecting light from orbit and, it appears, clearly visible to anyone looking up.
This was the first of many future Starlink launches.
Another concern is not just for visual astronomy, but radio astronomy too. Each satellite will emit radio signals in order to communicate with Earth, and for astronomers that rely on radio waves to study the universe – such as the first image of a black hole revealed last month – Starlink may bring with it new complications.
“Radio astronomers are even more concerned as the satellites are transmitting in the 10.7-12.7 GHz band, which includes the spectral lines of water among other things,” says space archaeologist Alice Gorman from Flinders University in Australia. “Radio astronomers fight daily to protect critical observation bands, and this is only going to get worse.”
Musk, to his credit, has responded to some of the concerns on Twitter. After initially seeming to misunderstand how and why the International Space Station (ISS) is visible in the night sky, he noted that SpaceX was looking into how to mitigate the effects of Starlink satellites on astronomy.
“Sent a note to Starlink team last week specifically regarding albedo reduction,” he said. “We’ll get a better sense of value of this when satellites have raised orbits and arrays are tracking to sun.”
He also implied that the ultimate goal of Starlink – bringing internet to the 3.3 billion people in the world who are offline, and using that money to fund SpaceX’s missions to Mars and beyond, albeit with an unclear market on how many of those can afford space internet or want to be online in the first place – was a “greater good” than any impact on astronomy.
“Potentially helping billions of economically disadvantaged people is the greater good,” he said. “That said, we’ll make sure Starlink has no material effect on discoveries in astronomy. We care a great deal about science.”
It’s clear, however, that much work will still need to be done to allay the concerns of the astronomy community. While some may point to the benefits services like Starlink could bring, others will be quick to point out the irrevocable impact this could have on human culture.
“I’m not so worried about astronomy per se,” says Drimmel. “I’m worried that what inspired me to become an astronomer is at risk.”
While those initial images of the train of satellites were impressive, the possibility of having so many satellites constantly visible is somewhat alarming. Astronomers may well be able to mitigate the impact of Starlink and other satellites (several teams are already working on models to see how that might be done), but the night sky itself may change forever as a result.
“With Starlink, we are expecting at least 100 satellites to be visible at any one time [at any location on Earth],” says Baskill. “Soon, even those fortunate to experience a truly dark site will find it filled with a haze of metal, slowly swarming across the night sky.”
What Would An Antimatter Universe Look Like?
Our universe is dominated by matter. Sure, there is dark matter and dark energy, but things like stars, planets and people are made of matter. Protons, electrons, neutrons and such. But matter seems to come in pairs. For every electron created, an antimatter positron is created. For every proton that appears, so does an anti-proton. Since our universe is dominated by matter, what if there is another universe dominated by antimatter? What would an antimatter universe look like?
The basic difference between matter and antimatter is that they have opposite charges. A proton has a positive charge, while an antiproton a negative one. Positively charged positrons are the antimatter version of negatively charged electrons. What's interesting is that the signs of electric charge are a fluke of history. We could have assigned a positive charge to electrons and a negative one to protons. There's nothing special about choosing one or the other. So you might think that an antimatter universe would look exactly like our regular one. But matter and antimatter have subtle differences.
One of the main differences has to do with neutrinos. Neutrinos don't have any charge, so if the sign of charge were the only difference between matter and antimatter, "antimatter" neutrinos would be identical to "matter" neutrinos. But it turns out they are slightly different. Neutrinos have a property called helicity, which describes whether they spin to the left or the right as they travel through space. Matter neutrinos have left-handed helicity, while antimatter one have a right-handed helicity. That might not seem like a big deal, but in 1956 Chien-Shiung Wu looked at the radioactive decay of cobalt-60 atoms. She found that left-oriented and right-oriented atoms decay at different rates. Since handedness is different between matter and antimatter, the two might decay at different rates. This might be the reason why we don't seen lots of antimatter in the universe.
But suppose there was an antimatter universe that had lots of anti-hydrogen and anti-helium after its big bang, just as our early universe had lots of hydrogen and helium. It would seem reasonable that these could fuse to heavier antimatter elements in the cores of antimatter stars, and this could produce antimatter planets and perhaps even antimatter life. What would these creatures see when they look up into their night sky?
In this case we know it would look much like our own night sky. Recently we've been able to produce anti-hydrogen, and we have looked at the type of light it produces. We found that anti-hydrogen produces the same kind of light as regular hydrogen. So an antimatter Sun would emit the same light as our Sun. Light would reflect off an antimatter moon just as it does our Moon, and our antimatter cousins would see a sky filled with stars, nebulae and planets, just like we do.
Of course all of this is based upon the assumption that antimatter would collapse under gravity to form stars in the first place. We think that should be the case, but what if antimatter also had anti-mass? What if anti-atoms gravitationally repelled each other? In that case, an antimatter universe would never form stars or galaxies. Our antimatter universe would simply be filled with traces of anti-hydrogen and anti-helium, and nothing would ever look up at the cosmic sky. While we think antimatter has regular mass, we haven't created enough of it in the lab to test the idea. For now we can't be sure.
So it is quite possible that an antimatter universe would look nearly identical to our own. But it could be that an antimatter universe would be nothing but cold gas. It's even possible that the radioactive decay of antimatter is so different from that of matter, that an antimatter universe can't even exist.
Earth's Darkest Night Skies Aren't Black At All
This image of Paranal Observatory shows skies that regularly display a myriad of colours and . [+] astronomical sights, from the plane of the Milky Way shining brightly overhead to the orange-hued speck of Mars (left), the starry constellations of Scorpius and Orion, and the magenta splash of the Carina Nebula (upper middle). Image credit: Y. Beletsky (LCO)/ESO.
If you take a look at the night sky from an extremely dark sky location, away from all the city lights, street lights, squid fisheries and other sources of human-caused light pollution, you'll be treated to one of nature's most spectacular sights: the view of outer space itself. We think of space as the blackest thing there is, as though it's the absence of all forms of light whatsoever. As far as visible light goes, the Hubble space telescope represents our best view into the dark, distant Universe. The longest it ever looked at any one region of space was for a total of 23 days. When it did that, here's what it found.
The full UV-visible-IR composite of the XDF the greatest image ever released of the distant . [+] Universe. Image credit: NASA, ESA, H. Teplitz and M. Rafelski (IPAC/Caltech), A. Koekemoer (STScI), R. Windhorst (Arizona State University), and Z. Levay (STScI).
Sure, you might look at an image like this and see the brilliant galaxies and their stars from so long ago, and think that if only we could see even farther, perhaps the entire sky would be filled in with sources of light. But that's not the case at all! The Universe is limited in terms of the amount of "stuff" observable to us, as we can only see as far back as the Big Bang and as light has traveled in the 13.8 billion years since. There might be hundreds of billions of galaxies in the Universe, but spread out over a sphere 46 billion light years in radius, there are going to be many gaps from our line-of-sight. And the Universe wasn't born with galaxies at all it took at least hundreds of millions of years for the first ones to form.
Artist's logarithmic scale conception of the observable universe. Image credit: Wikipedia user Pablo . [+] Carlos Budassi.
In other words, there's a limit to what any telescope, in principle, can see. But the spaces between those galaxies -- at least to ultraviolet, visible and infrared eyes (the type of light produced by stars) -- is truly black. But only, that is, if you view it from space. The spectacular image gracing the top of this article was taken by Yuri Beletsky at the European Southern Observatory, and showcases just how colorful the skies of Earth truly are. Some of what you see is intuitive, while other portions may be quite surprising, and they rely on some intricate physics. Yet that single image encapsulates a whole slew of reasons why the Earth's night sky is never completely dark.
The ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT) complex, as viewed from the VISTA telescope site. The yellowish . [+] glow in the sky is due to light pollution. Image credit: Y. Beletsky (LCO)/ESO.
Low on the horizon, there's a faint yellowish glow that can be seen from most locations on Earth. This is mostly due to human activity, and to the lights we've installed to help illuminate our cities at night. Even at a pristine dark sky location, like high up in the Andes in Chile, this faint, remote light pollution shows up on the horizon, and taints the blackness of the sky.
A small cluster of stars, one of thousands known within our galaxy, emits light that's incident on . [+] Earth's atmosphere. Image credit: Y. Beletsky (LCO)/ESO.
Another source of light is the stars in our sky itself. Although, as seen from Earth, there are only perhaps a few thousand stars the human eye can perceive, this is enough light that even on a completely moonless night, there's a residual amount of light pollution that comes courtesy of the sky itself. Just as the Sun's indirect light shines through the Earth's atmosphere, giving the sky its illuminated blue color, starlight can do this as well, although in a much more subdued fashion.
A portion of the galactic plane, with star forming regions highlighted in pink due to the emission . [+] of hydrogen atoms. Image credit: Y. Beletsky (LCO)/ESO.
When the galaxy has risen, that too is a source of light in the night sky. Although the light from the Milky Way appears diffuse to human eyes, rather than point-like, it does more than travel in a straight line until it reaches your eyes. It also falls everywhere on the atmosphere of the Earth, where it can be scattered around, giving a faint "white light" effect to even the dark portions of the sky.
One of the few galaxies -- the Large Magellanic Cloud -- as visible from Earth. The faint background . [+] light comes from Earth's atmosphere. Image credit: Y. Beletsky (LCO)/ESO.
Additionally, other galaxies -- also visible from Earth -- play a role as well. While only a few other galaxies are visible to the naked eye, including Andromeda, Triangulum and the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, even ones beyond the limit of human vision contribute to the overall sky brightness. This is true of stars beyond the limit of human vision as well everything that emits light that impacts Earth gets diffused throughout the atmosphere, and can be detected by a sensitive enough camera. Although the Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy (VISTA) site by ESO is at an incredibly high altitude and has notoriously low turbulence in the atmosphere, it's nothing at all like being in space, which is where you need to be for this effect to drop to zero.
And if you were in space, you could see what the astronauts aboard the international space station see: a combination of green (lower) and red (higher) "glows" coming from the highest reaches of the Earth's atmosphere. This effect is known as airglow, and comes in a thin layer high above the portion of the atmosphere where any sorts of lifeforms reside. But from more than 100 kilometers up, this phenomenon can be seen from the ground with a sensitive enough piece of equipment.
The green (common) airglow from ionized and excited atoms and molecules in Earth's upper atmosphere . [+] transitioning down to lower energy states during the night. Image credit: Y. Beletsky (LCO)/ESO.
The Sun's light isn't just in the visible portion of the spectrum, but also includes ultraviolet light and solar wind particles that are capable of exciting and ionizing some of the atoms and molecules in the upper atmosphere. Over the course of the night, the ions and the electrons that were separated (or excited) get back together, and that causes the emission of light of particular frequencies. One of those frequencies -- the strongest one in oxygen atoms -- gives rise to green light, while at even higher altitudes, a different transition (mostly in hydrogen atoms) gives rise to a red airglow.
The red airglow against the starry background of Earth's night sky, with a cloud in the foreground. . [+] Image credit: Y. Beletsky (LCO)/ESO.
These glows are always present, and differ from place-to-place only in magnitude. And finally, there's the effects of clouds. Although on a very dark night, the clouds may simply appear as blobs of darkness, they're actually just as reflective as they are during the day. Out of all of the light shining on Earth, a portion will get reflected, and some of that light will re-reflect off the clouds, causing them all to appear illuminated from Earth.
While the depths of space where there are no stars or galaxies may truly be devoid of starlight, including ultraviolet, visible and near-infrared light, the sky as seen from Earth will never achieve true darkness. There's a limit to darkness as we achieve it on Earth, and that's one of the inevitable consequences of having our atmosphere. If you want the ultimate views of the Universe, you have to go to space!
7. Starlight Night
The American West has inspired generations of artists with its wild and undeveloped characteristics. Georgia O’Keefe was enchanted by the lure of the West. While more famous for her New Mexico landscapes, O’Keefe’s early works included attempts to capture the space and grandeur of the West’s crystal-clear, dark night skies.
O’Keefe didn’t find these stars in New York City. She had to seek them out closer to nature itself in the West.
A persistent mystery
In 2018, scientists were even more perplexed when they made the most precise measurement of antimatter to date and found that antimatter and matter behave nearly identically. The finding suggests that particles and their opposites should have been created in equal numbers at the beginning of the universe however, if true, the fact that matter prevails over antimatter is ever more difficult to reconcile.
Researchers are diligently seeking the factor that explains the dominance of matter over antimatter in our cosmos. Calculations suggest that just after the Big Bang, when particles and antiparticles annihilated one another, there was a slight imbalance in their numbers. Less than one in every billion ordinary particles survived the melee and went on to form all the matter around us today. But why?
Scientists worldwide are working to determine if a neutrino acts as its own antiparticle, which would have allowed a small fraction of neutrinos to transition from antimatter to matter at the universe's inception. In this scenario, a slight matter imbalance would have existed back then.
Antimatter has been created and sustained in small quantities in particle-physics laboratories. Some research teams have gone so far as to create antiprotons, and drive them around in a van so that physicists at CERN could transport them to a nearby facility.
Readers of Dan Brown's book "Angels and Demons" (Pocket Books, 2000) &mdash which (spoiler alert) involves a plot to blow up the Vatican using antimatter &mdash might worry about such experiments. But worry not: If CERN scientists took all the antimatter they ever created and annihilated it with matter, they would barely have enough energy to light a single electric light bulb for a few minutes, according to a website FAQ from the CERN laboratory.