Anti-Matter Captured at CERN Hadron Collider for 17 minutes

Graphic illustrating the Large Hadron Collider

Scientists working on World Largest Hadron Collider at CERN, have now been able to trap and isolate Antimatter for 17 Minutes.

In previous most successful experiments, scientists were only able to record the presence of Antimatter for few neno seconds. The increased longevity promises researchers to allow more time to perform deeper insight experiments on AntiAtoms related to Change-Parity-Time (CPT) Reversal Symmetry, which could solve the mysteries of Universe.

Jeffrey Hangst, spokesman for the ALPHA team conducting the tests at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva said:
We can keep the antihydrogen atoms trapped for 1000 seconds. This is long enough to begin to study them, even with the small number that we can catch so far.
Around 14 billion years ago, while the creation of universe from The Big Bang, matter and antimatter are thought to have existed in equal quantities. If that balance had persisted, the observable Universe we inhabit would never have come into being.

Fortunately, for some unknown reason(s), Nature seemed to have a slight preference for matter on AntiMatter, and that's why today AntiMatter is rare. But this asymmetry remains one of the greatest riddles in particle physics.

Scientists used CERN high energy accelerator to create the Antihydrogen Atoms at zero temperature, to use Laser and Microwave Spectroscopy for comparing hydrogen particles to their counterparts.

The same team succeeded last fall in trapping dozens of antimatter atoms and holding them in place for a fraction of a second, a world first at the time. But that was not long enough for the excitable particles to settle into the stable "ground" state needed for precise measurements.

The new benchmark extended this storage time 5,000 fold, making it possible to carry out crucial experiments. Scientists will now look for "violations" or discrepancies in something called the Charge-Parity-Time (CPT) Reversal Symmetry.

The "C" of CPT involves swapping the electric charges of the particles. "P" for parity "is like looking in the mirror," CERN explained in a press release. And "T" means reversing the trajectory of time.

CPT says that a particle moving forward through time in our universe should be indistinguishable from an antiparticle moving backwards through time in a mirror universe. According to this rule, hydrogen and antihydrogen, in other words, should have exactly the same spectral profile.

Measurements of trapped antihydrogen are due to get underway shortly, and could yield results before the end of the year. As Jeffrey Hangst said:
Any hint of CPT symmetry breaking would require a serious rethink of our understanding of nature. But half the universe has gone missing, so some kind of rethink is apparently on the agenda.

If you hit the trapped antihydrogen atoms with just the right microwave frequency, they will escape from the trap and we can detect the annihilation. It will be the first time anybody has interacted with antiatoms to probe their structure.

The ability to store bits of antimatter for a quarter of an hour, far longer that researchers expected, could also provide a new way to measure how they are influenced by gravity.
The researchers detail their work on the antimatter trap in a new paper published online June 5th 2011 in the journal Nature Physics.
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