For the first time ever, scientists have observed the light spectrum of antimatter. ALPHA, an international collaboration based at CERN, made history by capturing a measurement of the optical spectrum of the 1S-2S transition in trapped antihydrogen. Progressing scientific techniques in this area will lead to more precision comparisons of antihydrogen and hydrogen, further illuminating the mysterious study area of antimatter. With this breakthrough from the ALPHA collaboration, a new era of research begins.

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The observation of this antimatter light spectrum constitutes a significant scientific breakthrough and ushers in a new era in high-precision antimatter research. The breakthrough comes after nearly two decades of CERN research and work developing techniques to manipulate super-cold antiprotons and positrons and create trapped antihydrogen. Detecting the very few atoms that are available is another crucial step towards precision comparisons of antihydrogen and hydrogen.

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“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,” said Jeffrey Hangst, ALPHA experiment spokesperson.

Of the many, many questions that could someday be answered by learning more about antimatter, scientists hope to gain insight into one of the most perplexing aspects of the origin of our universe. Science has long theorized that the Big Bang would have created matter and antimatter in equal quantities, but our universe is made up almost entirely of matter. Unlocking more of the mysterious attributes of rare antimatter may help explain why it is not more prevalent.

The findings were published this week in the journal Nature.


Image via ALPHA