Tech UPTechnologyThey catch antimatter for the first time

They catch antimatter for the first time

antimateria-alphaA team of researchers led by Jeffrey Hangst has achievedproduce and trap 38 antihydrogen atomswith the help ofALPHA experimentof the European Laboratory of Particle Physics (CERN), as published today by the magazineNature. This will provide an answer to one of the main open questions about the Universe:What are the differences between matter and antimatter?

While a hydrogen atom is made up of a proton and an electron, theantihydrogen atomis formed byan antiproton and a positron. Antihydrogen had been produced at low energies at CERN since 2002, but because when matter and antimatter meet they “annihilate” each other, until now it had not been possible to confine these atoms, preventing their detailed study. Technical innovations that have made it possible to trap antimatter for the first time include a new magnetic ‘trap’ that confines antihydrogen and prevents it from coming into contact with matter.

Antimatter – or rather the absence of it – remains one of the majorunsolved mysteries of science. It is believed that matter and antimatter formed in equal amounts during the Big Bang. Then,Why is the world we know is made of matter while antimatter seems to have disappeared?“By analyzing the differences between the properties of the two, scientists hope to find an explanation,” they say from CERN.

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