An experiment conducted by physicists at CERN's Large Hadron Collider is shedding light on how matter and antimatter behave differently.
The behavior, which was observed in decays of D mesons particles in the LHCb experiment, also revealed a small mechanism that can explain why matter is more abundant than antimatter in the universe.
Matter And Antimatter
Antimatter and normal matter are essentially identical, but the two have opposite charges. Understanding the imbalance between matter and antimatter is crucial because it can explain one of the mysteries about the universe.
Matter and antimatter will immediately annihilate into energy when they meet because of their opposite charges,
The theory posits that the Big Bang created matter and antimatter in equal amounts. If matter and antimatter existed in equal parts in the early universe, they would have annihilated each other and, thus, nothing should have existed.
Certain interactions between particles produce differences in the behaviors of matter particles and their opposite counterparts. This phenomenon that created the imbalance between matter and antimatter is called CP violation.
As early as the 1960s, physicists have already found CP violation in particles containing quarks, but only in the strange and bottom of the six known flavors of quarks.
The LHCb experiment at the world's most powerful particle accelerator, however, managed to observe the phenomenon in D mesons comprised of charm quarks
Potential New Sources Of Matter-Antimatter Asymmetry
Marco Gersabeck, a particle physicist from the University of Manchester, cited the implications if the asymmetry observed in D mesons does not come from the same mechanism that causes those observed in strange and bottom quarks.
"This leaves room for new sources of matter-antimatter asymmetry that can add to the total such asymmetry in the early universe," Gersabeck said. "And that's important as the few known cases of asymmetry can't explain why the universe contains so much matter.
Particle physicist Olya Igonkina, from the National Institute for Nuclear and High-Energy Physics in Amsterdam, said the effects of the D-meson behavior may be too small to fully understand the dominance of matter, but it offers a new avenue to unravel the problem.