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Antihydrogen Produced in Powerful Magnetic Trap Unlocks Antimatter Secrets

Dec 20, 2016 05:02 AM EST
Behind The Scenes At CERN The European Organisation For Nuclear Research
A team of physicists from CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, has made a major breakthrough in antimatter research. The group has successfully produced antimatter using a powerful magnetic trap.
(Photo : Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

A team of physicists from CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, has made a major breakthrough in antimatter research. The group has successfully produced antimatter using a powerful magnetic trap.

According to the study published in the journal Nature, the researchers working on CERN's "alpha experiment" in Geneva, Switzerland got a closer look on antimatter and how it responds to laser light at precise frequency by producing the antimatter form of hydrogen.

The magnetic trap was first developed six years ago, where it can trap only one atom. Now, Jeffrey Hangst and his group has managed to trap 15 atoms of antihydrogen simultaneously, Air & Space reports.

“These people [who want to built antimatter engines] are wasting their time. It’s about making enough of it. It takes much more energy to produce than [the energy] you get out of it, and it will take longer than the age of the universe," Hangst said.

BBC notes that antimatter has long been a mystery for scientists, because even though the Big Bang is known to produce matter and antimatter equally, matter is more abundant than the latter and easier to produce.

Hangst and his team reported how the antihydrogen they captured responded to laser light, saying, "We've tried to shine the same 'colour' of light, if you will, on an antihydrogen atom that we would use for hydrogen, to see if it responds in the same way. The answer so far is yes."

Hangst explained to BBC that they decided to produce an antimatter form of Hydrogen because it's the most basic atom, which means that observation will be easier as they know everything about it.

The team is also pushing forward with their studies with plans of building other machines to probe antimatter in various ways.This include a machine to study gravity called Alpha-G projected to be built by CERN by the end of 2017.

"We're building a new machine that will study gravity, and see what happens when you drop some antimatter. That's an experiment that needs to be done," Hangst noted.

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