For the first time in history, the ALPHA community of scientists was able to measure the optical spectrum of an antimatter atom. This scientific breakthrough was the result of more than twenty years of work by the project team, which had to overcome many obstacles on the way to victory.
The so-called "Antiproton moderator" of the ALPHA project works with antihydrogen atoms - the antagonist of ordinary hydrogen. Hydrogen, whose atoms are made up of a single proton and a single electron, is the most studied element in the periodic table. At the same time, his antagonist double remains a mystery to scientists to this day.
To study it, researchers have to create its constituent particles - antiprotons and positrons - and artificially combine them into antihydrogen atoms. This is an extremely painstaking work, which, however, is of extremely great scientific importance. The fact is that any measurable difference between the spectra of hydrogen and antihydrogen can destroy the fundamental principles of physics and shed light on the mystery of the imbalance of matter and antimatter in our universe.
The spectrum of the hydrogen atom
The ALPHA breakthrough is the first ever act of observing the spectral line of an antihydrogen atom, which will finally allow comparing the characteristics of matter and antimatter. At the moment, as part of the experiment, scientists have not found any differences from the spectral picture of ordinary hydrogen. This result is consistent with the Standard Model of Particle Physics, which predicts that hydrogen and its antagonist should have identical spectral characteristics.