This discovery could change a lot of what we know about our universe.
Oxford physicists have discovered a subatomic particle that can move from matter to antimatter and could have a huge impact on how we look at the Universe.
Back and forth
Using CERN's Large Hadron Collider, the researchers found that i charm mesons (subatomic particles that have both a quark and an antiquark) can spontaneously switch between particle and antiparticle states.
Previously, researchers thought that the charm meson traveled "simply" as a mix of matter and antimatter. They now know that it can switch between states based on data collected through experiments with the collider. A pre-press of the scientists' results can be found on arXiv .
Matter and antimatter, one weight difference
The thing that suggested to the researchers that the charm meson could be both matter and antimatter was an incredibly small difference in weight between the matter and antimatter that make up the particle.
In fact, the scientists found that the matter and antimatter in the charm meson had a difference of just 0.00000000000000000000000000000000000001 grams. They were able to measure it by proton collisions using the Large Hadron Collider. And I, who 6 years ago ended it out of date!
Charm meson particles are produced in proton-proton collisions and travel on average only a few millimeters before transforming, or decaying, into other particles.Tim Gershon, professor in the Department of Physics at the University of Warwick, in a recent statement
By comparing the particles of the charm meson that decay after traveling a short distance with those that travel a little further, the researchers were able to measure the key quantity that controls the velocity of theoscillation of the charm meson in anti-charm meson - the difference in mass between the heaviest and the lightest version of the charm meson. From matter to antimatter.
Big implications for the Big Bang
Now the researchers are looking into the actual transition process of the meson itself, according to the press release. However, their findings already challenge commonly accepted beliefs about the Universe.
For example, the standard model of particle physics says that the Big Bang produced matter and antimatter in equal quantities, but scientists know that this is not the case and that there is much more observable matter than antimatter. according to CERN .
And now that they know that some particles can move from antimatter to matter (and vice versa), they may have figured out why.