Is antimatter more similar to matter than we thought? Apparently so, according to newly revealed research that shows that the attraction force between protons is similar to the one between antiprotons.
- New research shows that attraction between protons is similar to that of antiprotons.
- Scientists used a Realistic Heavy Ion Collider to observe the properties of antimatter.
- Scientists have managed to measure the scattering length and effective range of interaction between antiprotons.
A team of scientists measured two very important parameters in order to determine how similar these attraction forces are: firstly the scattering length and secondly the effective range of interaction between two antiprotons. This has tremendously helped scientists figure out how the force that holds together the particles in antimatter works as well as how antimatter itself compares to matter in that respect.
Physicist Frank Geurts explains that there are subtle differences in the way matter and antimatter interact with each other and that there is now a new way to study and understand these differences by comparison.
Matter and antimatter were both created during the Big Bang just like protons and antiprotons. What differentiates the two is that antiprotons carry the opposite electrical charge and spin than the one which protons do. Matter and antimatter annihilate each other upon contact and the way protons and antiprotons function and differ is of critical importance.
Physicists are trying to use this knowledge of how the protons and antiprotons function to understand why there are so few antimatter particles in nature despite particles and antiparticles having been originally produced in the same amount during the Big Bang.
Geurts also explains this is where the importance of this new research comes in. The key to matter surviving may have lied in the attractive force matter has. It is possible that antimatter did not have the same attractive force and, as a consequence, it may not have been able to survive in the shape of planets or stars, like matter did.
The scattering length involves a method of measuring how much particles deviate as they make the journey from their source to their destination. Using a solenoid tracker (STAR, for short) more than 500 scientists worked on measuring the particle’s scattering length using a Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) within the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory.
Besides being able to understand how much the particles deviated, scientists also observed their effective range, which showed them how close particles actually need to be to one another so that their charges could influence each other. To explain, it’s just like it is with magnets: if they are close enough, they influence each other’s trajectory and either attract one another or reject one another depending on their charges.
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