Strangelet - Natural or Artificial Occurrence

Natural or Artificial Occurrence

Although nuclei do not decay to strangelets, there are other ways to create strangelets, so if the strange matter hypothesis is correct there should be strangelets in the universe. There are at least three ways they might be created in nature:

  • Cosmogonically, i.e., in the early universe when the QCD confinement phase transition occurred. It is possible that strangelets were created along with the neutrons and protons which form ordinary matter.
  • High energy processes. The universe is full of very high-energy particles (cosmic rays). It is possible that when these collide with each other or with neutron stars they may provide enough energy to overcome the energy barrier and create strangelets from nuclear matter.
  • Cosmic ray impacts. In addition to head-on collisions of cosmic rays, ultra high energy cosmic rays impacting on Earth's atmosphere may create strangelets.

These scenarios offer possibilities for observing strangelets. If there are strangelets flying around the universe, then occasionally a strangelet should hit Earth, where it would appear as an exotic type of cosmic ray. If strangelets can be produced in high energy collisions, then we might make them at heavy-ion colliders.

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