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Mysterious Origin of Matter Possibly Solved

Feb 25, 2015 05:12 PM EST
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Scientists may have finally solved the mysterious origin of matter in the Universe, something that had puzzled physicists for many years, according to a new study.

The physics of the world are made up of two types of particles: matter and antimatter. Most of the laws of nature treat particles and antiparticles equally, however stars and planets are made of matter, which tips the scales against antimatter, or antiparticles.

Until now, this asymmetry, which favors matter to a very small degree, has left scientists scratching their heads. New research by UCLA physicists, published in the journal Physical Review Letters, may have finally found the solution.

According to researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), the asymmetry is possibly due to the motion of the Higgs field, which is associated with the Higgs boson - the particle discovered in 2012 that makes up all matter in the Universe.

In the moments after the Big Bang, there were nearly equal amounts of matter and antimatter - one particle per 10 billion. As the Universe cooled, matter and antimatter collided and destroyed each other - disappearing into two photons or a pair of some other particles. All that was left were the stars and planets, and gas found in today's Universe.

And given that all these celestial bodies are made up of matter, it would seem that they are the cause for the Universe's imbalance.

When the Higgs boson was first discovered, physicists were puzzled by its mass. This unique value suggests that the Higgs field in the first moments of the Big Bang was possibly much larger than its "equilibrium value" observed today.

The Higgs field "had to descend to the equilibrium, in a process of 'Higgs relaxation,'" lead author Alexander Kusenko, explained in a statement.

The UCLA team has provided important insight into this longstanding puzzle, however, whether the motion of the Higgs field is to blame for the asymmetry of the Universe remains to be seen.

For more great nature science stories and general news, please visit our sister site, Headlines and Global News (HNGN).

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