Where did half the universe go?

(ORDO NEWS) — According to existing theories, matter and antimatter in the Universe should be equally divided, writes the author of an article in Big Think.

But we can’t detect antimatter. Where did she go? The answer to this question will give us the key to understanding the existence of the world.

The answer to this question will be the key to understanding the existence of the world.

Don Lincoln

Scientists know an astonishing number of strange things. For example, we know that the Universe appeared about 14 billion years ago as a result of a cataclysm, the so-called Big Bang.

This event was first experimentally proven in 1929, and over the years there has been more and more evidence in favor of the hypothesis. In the fact that everything was so, there are no events.

We also know that in addition to the ordinary matter that we are made of, there is also an unusual one, the so-called antimatter.

When both types of matter come into contact, they annihilate each other, and a staggering amount of energy is released.

When one gram of antimatter comes into contact with one gram of matter, the same amount of energy is released as when the atomic bomb exploded in Hiroshima in 1945.

If the union of matter and antimatter leads to the formation of energy, then the reverse process is also possible.

Energy can form matter and antimatter, and in equal amounts. Antimatter was discovered in 1931, and since then there has been more and more evidence for this theory.

The existence of antimatter is widely acknowledged, even playing a significant (and somewhat realistic) role in Dan Brown’s blockbuster novel Angels & Demons.

What’s wrong with antimatter?

There is a lot of evidence for the Big Bang theory and the existence of antimatter, but therein lies the rub.

If we combine these two facts, a difficult question arises: both cannot be true at the same time, or at least there is a missing element in this theory.

And this is where the problem arises. When the universe came into being, space was full of energy. Energy can be transformed into matter and antimatter.

As the universe expanded and cooled, all that energy should have been converted into an equal amount of matter and antimatter.

But if you look around, you can draw a curious conclusion: the Universe that we see consists only of matter.

Maybe antimatter is found somewhere far, far away in the galaxy?

By all accounts, antimatter could be somewhere “out there” in the universe. After all, if matter and antimatter do not touch, then there is no problem. In principle, the moon could be antimatter.

But we know it’s not. If Neil Armstrong and his entire lunar module were matter, and the Moon were antimatter, then a very large explosion would occur when the spacecraft touched the surface of the satellite.

This did not happen, so we now know that the Moon is made of matter.

The study of other celestial bodies allows us to draw the same conclusion about our cosmic neighbors: The solar system is made of matter.

What about other stars? We can be sure that other stars in the Milky Way galaxy are also made of matter.

Stars like the Sun are constantly emitting particles that are referred to in our system as the “solar wind”. In fact, this is a stream of atoms emitted by the Sun into interstellar space.

If there were stars consisting of antimatter, then they would release antimatter atoms, and then the atoms of matter and antimatter would fly in interstellar space.

Sometimes they would collide and destroy each other. If this were to happen, then a special form of gamma radiation (something like a very powerful X-ray) could appear as a result of this process.

But since no such gamma radiation has been detected, we can be sure that other stars are also made of matter. And by the same principle it is possible to exclude the existence of galaxies from antimatter.

In intergalactic space, gas clouds surrounding galaxies would touch, and we would then learn about the interaction of clouds of matter and antimatter.

So where is all the antimatter?

If, nevertheless, it is impossible to exclude the possibility of the existence of galaxies from matter and antimatter, then what are we dealing with?

What remains is the very strange hypothesis that somehow there was more matter than antimatter at the time of the origin of the universe. And it looks like it was.

According to available data, at the early stage of the formation of the Universe, less than a second after its occurrence, for every two billion particles of antimatter, there were two billion and one particle of matter.

Two billion particles of matter and antimatter destroyed each other, leaving one particle of matter, which then merged with the rest of its kind. Thus was formed the matter with which we are dealing now.

The energy generated as a result of the destruction of matter and antimatter can be found anywhere. Radio waves fill the entire universe. This phenomenon is known as the cosmic microwave background radiation.

It is by measuring the CMB and counting the protons in the Universe that we have determined the ratio of matter and antimatter.

The riddle of asymmetry

How did it happen that the ratio of matter and antimatter at the early stage of the formation of the Universe was slightly disproportionate? We do not know the answer to the question, but scientists have some thoughts on this matter.

For example, in the 1960s, scientists discovered that subatomic particles of matter in the universe slightly outnumber their antimatter equivalents.

These particles are called quarks. But the disproportionate ratio of quarks and antiquarks does not sufficiently explain the existence of the universe, so the researchers proposed a different hypothesis.

Neutrinos are very small mass particles that are produced by some form of radioactive decay. The largest and closest source of neutrinos is the Sun.

Researchers are building particle accelerators and detectors to study the behavior of neutrinos and antineutrinos and see if they differ.

If neutrinos and antineutrinos behave differently, then this would be a clue. Then one could conclude that our Universe was formed as a result of leptogenesis, that is, from particles of small mass.

Various facilities are currently being built to study this theory, but the largest one is located in the US and is called DUNE (Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment).

As part of the experiment, researchers at the Fermilab laboratory, near Chicago, will fire neutrinos and antineutrinos at a special detector located in South Dakota, 1,300 kilometers away.

The DUNE experiment is scheduled for this decade. (Let me tell you a secret: I am a Fermilab researcher, but not affiliated with DUNE).

Nobody knows why the Universe is kind to matter but not to antimatter. It’s important to understand this.

Without this tiny imbalance (or asymmetry), we would simply not exist. So we have to answer this question to understand why galaxies, stars and people continue to exist.


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