Nav: Home

New antimatter breakthrough to help illuminate mysteries of the Big Bang

December 20, 2016

Swansea University scientists working at CERN have made a landmark finding, taking them one step closer to answering the question of why matter exists and illuminating the mysteries of the Big Bang and the birth of the Universe.

In their paper published in Nature the physicists from the University's College of Science, working with an international collaborative team at CERN, describe the first precision study of antihydrogen, the antimatter equivalent of hydrogen.

Professor Mike Charlton said: "The existence of antimatter is well established in physics, and it is buried deep in the heart of some of the most successful theories ever developed. But we have yet to answer a central question of why didn't matter and antimatter, which it is believed were created in equal amounts when the Big Bang started the Universe, mutually self-annihilate?

"We also have yet to address why there is any matter left in the Universe at all. This conundrum is one of the central open questions in fundamental science, and one way to search for the answer is to bring the power of precision atomic physics to bear upon antimatter."

It has long been established that any excited atom will reach its lowest state by emitting photons, and the spectrum of light emitted from them represents a kind of atomic fingerprint and it is a unique identifier. The most familiar everyday example is the orange of the sodium streetlights.

Hydrogen has its own spectrum and, as the simplest and most abundant atom in the Universe, it holds a special place in physics. The properties of the hydrogen atom are known with high accuracy, and one in particular, the so-called 1S-2S transition has been determined with a precision close to one part in a hundred trillion - equivalent to knowing the distance between Swansea and London to about a billionth of a metre!

Now in these latest experiments, the team have replaced the proton nucleus of the ordinary atom by an antiproton, and the electron substitute is the positron. By shining laser light at a well-defined frequency onto antihydrogen atoms held in a trap, they have seen that some of them get excited to an upper level, and in so doing leave the trap. This very first experiment has already determined the frequency of the antihydrogen transition to a few parts in a tenth of a billion.

Professor Mike Charlton added: "To get some sense of the importance of this discovery, we need to understand that it has been 30 years in the making and represents the collaborative work of hundreds of researchers over the years. Enquiries into this area of physics started in the 1980s and this landmark achievement has now opened the door to precision studies of atomic antimatter, which will hopefully bring us closer to answering the question of why matter exists to help solve the mystery as to how the Universe came about."
-end-


The Swansea team are:


Academic: Professor Mike Charlton, Dr Stefan Eriksson, Dr Aled Isaac, Professor Niels Madsen, Professor Dirk Peter van der Werf
Research Fellows: Dr Chris Baker and Dr Dan Maxwell
Post-Graduate students: Steven Armstrong Jones and Muhammed Sameed

http://www.nature.com/news/ephemeral-antimatter-atoms-pinned-down-in-milestone-laser-test-1.21193

Swansea University

Related Big Bang Articles:

'Big Food' companies have less power than you might think
A Dartmouth study finds that 'Big Food' companies are striving to make food more sustainable from farm to factory but have less power than you might think.
Looking for signs of the Big Bang in the desert
The Simons Observatory will be built in the Chilean Atacama desert for the purposes of studying primordial gravitational waves which originated in the first instants of the Big Bang.
More bang for the buck
Researchers find cost-effective solutions to sediment runoff and other land-based pollution affecting West Maui reefs
Big data for the universe
Astronomers at Lomonosov Moscow State University in cooperation with their French colleagues and with the help of citizen scientists have released 'The Reference Catalog of galaxy SEDs,' which contains value-added information about 800,000 galaxies.
Can big data yield big ideas? Blend novel and familiar, new study finds
Struggling to get your creative juices flowing for a new idea or project?
Why big brains are rare
Do big-brained creatures steal energy for them from other organs or eat more to supply this expensive tissue?
New antimatter breakthrough to help illuminate mysteries of the Big Bang
Swansea University physicists working with an international collaborative team at CERN, conduct the first precision study of antihydrogen, the antimatter equivalent of hydrogen.
Big data for little creatures
A multi-disciplinary team of researchers at UC Riverside has received $3 million from the National Science Foundation Research Traineeship program to prepare the next generation of scientists and engineers who will learn how to exploit the power of big data to understand insects.
How we escaped from the Big Bang
A Griffith University physicist is challenging the conventional view of space and time to show how the world advances through time.
Big PanDA tackles big data for physics and other future extreme scale scientific applications
A team of physicists just received $2.1 million in funding for 2016-2017 from DOE's Advanced Scientific Computing Research program to enhance a 'workload management system' for handling the ever-increasing data demands of two experiments at the Large Hadron Collider and expanding its use as a general workload management service for a Department of Energy supercomputer.

Related Big Bang Reading:

Big Bang: The Origin of the Universe
by Simon Singh (Author)

Genesis and the Big Bang: The Discovery Of Harmony Between Modern Science And The Bible
by Gerald Schroeder (Author)

One Day a Dot: The Story of You, The Universe, and Everything
by Ian Lendler (Author), Shelli Paroline (Illustrator), Braden Lamb (Illustrator)

George and the Big Bang (George's Secret Key)
by Stephen Hawking (Author), Lucy Hawking (Author), Garry Parsons (Illustrator)

The Big History Timeline Wallbook: Unfold the History of the Universe―from the Big Bang to the Present Day!
by Christopher Lloyd (Author), Andy Forshaw (Illustrator)

2019 The Big Bang Theory Wall Calendar
by Trends International (Author)

The Big Bang Explained (Mysteries of Space)
by Megan Ansdell (Author)

Bang!: How We Came to Be
by Michael Rubino (Author)

Older than The Stars
by Karen C. Fox (Author), Nancy Davis (Illustrator)

The Big Bang to Now: All of Time in Six Chunks
by Terry Herman Sissons Ph.D (Author)

Best Science Podcasts 2018

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2018. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Hacking The Law
We have a vision of justice as blind, impartial, and fair — but in reality, the law often fails those who need it most. This hour, TED speakers explore radical ways to change the legal system. Guests include lawyer and social justice advocate Robin Steinberg, animal rights lawyer Steven Wise, political activist Brett Hennig, and lawyer and social entrepreneur Vivek Maru.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#496 Anti-Intellectualism: Down With the Scientist!
This week we get to the bottom of anti-intellectualism. We'll be speaking with David Robson, senior journalist at BBC Future, about misology -- the hatred of reason and argument -- and how it may be connected to distrust of intellectuals. Then we'll speak with Bruno Takahashi, associate professor of environmental journalism and communication at Michigan State University, about how the way we consume media affects our scientific knowledge and how we feel about scientists and the press.