Washington, March 5 (ANI): An international team of scientists studying high-energy collisions of gold ions at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) has published evidence of the most massive antinucleus discovered to date.
The RHIC is a 2.4-mile-circumference particle accelerator located at the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory.
The new antinucleus, discovered at RHIC’s STAR detector, is a negatively charged state of antimatter containing an antiproton, an antineutron, and an anti-Lambda particle.
It is also the first antinucleus containing an anti-strange quark.
“This experimental discovery may have unprecedented consequences for our view of the world,” commented theoretical physicist Horst Stoecker, Vice President of the Helmholtz Association of German National Laboratories.
“This antimatter pushes open the door to new dimensions in the nuclear chart — an idea that just a few years ago, would have been viewed as impossible,” he added.
The discovery may help elucidate models of neutron stars and opens up exploration of fundamental asymmetries in the early universe.
All terrestrial nuclei are made of protons and neutrons (which in turn contain only up and down quarks).
The standard Periodic Table of Elements is arranged according to the number of protons, which determine each element’s chemical properties.
Physicists use a more complex, three-dimensional chart to also convey information on the number of neutrons, which may change in different isotopes of the same element, and a quantum number known as “strangeness,” which depends on the presence of strange quarks.
Nuclei containing one or more strange quarks are called hypernuclei.
For all ordinary matter, with no strange quarks, the strangeness value is zero and the chart is flat.
Hypernuclei appear above the plane of the chart.
The new discovery of strange antimatter with an antistrange quark (an antihypernucleus) marks the first entry below the plane.
This study of the new antihypernucleus also yields a valuable sample of normal hypernuclei, and has implications for our understanding of the structure of collapsed stars.
“The strangeness value could be non-zero in the core of collapsed stars, so the present measurements at RHIC will help us distinguish between models that describe these exotic states of matter,” said Jinhui Chen, one of the lead authors, a postdoctoral researcher at Kent State University and currently a staff scientist at the Shanghai Institute of Applied Physics.
The findings also pave the way towards exploring violations of fundamental symmetries between matter and antimatter that occurred in the early universe, making possible the very existence of our world. (ANI)