Scientists at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known as CERN, saw antimatter in the real world for the first time after 20 years of looking.
Researchers had previously been able to produce antimatter, but were unable to study it for long since it soon destroyed itself and the experiment. Scientists trapped antimatter hydrogen atoms with magnetic forces, in the experiment, and were able to illuminate them with a laser.
Understanding antimatter is a major step in learning how the universe developed and has enormous potential to one day serve as a fuel and power source, since it’s the most powerful possible fuel scientists are aware of in the universe.
“Using a laser to observe a transition in antihydrogen and comparing it to hydrogen to see if they obey the same laws of physics has always been a key goal of antimatter research,” Jeffrey Hangst, a spokesperson for the experiment, said in a press statement Monday.
“Moving and trapping antiprotons or positrons is easy because they are charged particles,” he said. “But when you combine the two you get neutral antihydrogen, which is far more difficult to trap, so we have designed a very special magnetic trap that relies on the fact that antihydrogen is a little bit magnetic.”
Scientists concluded that there was no difference between the antimatter hydrogen spectral data and that of hydrogen.
CERN scientists were able to analyze the light emitted by the antimatter and published their results in the scientific journal Nature.
“The Standard Model predicts that there should have been equal amounts of matter and antimatter in the primordial Universe after the Big Bang, but today’s Universe is observed to consist almost entirely of ordinary matter,” states the research’s abstract. “This motivates physicists to carefully study antimatter, to see if there is a small asymmetry in the laws of physics that govern the two types of matter.”
The scientists’ confirmation that matter and antimatter have similar visual characteristics is a powerful piece of evidence that the Standard Model of the universe’s formation is probably correct.
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