April 16 (UPI) — Physicists working on the T2K project at Lancaster University in Britain are inching closer to an explanation for the dominance of matter over antimatter — a phenomena that makes the universe possible.
Models suggests the Big Bang should have produced equal amounts of matter and antimatter. And yet, our physical reality suggests we exist in an asymmetrical universe, one with a lot more matter than antimatter.
Cosmologists and astrophysicists have yet to uncover the origins of this asymmetry, but new research by scientists working on the T2K project have yielded clues.
The T2K project is focused on the study of neutrinos, the neutral form of leptons, tiny particles produced by the sun that travel through matter unimpeded.
The results of recent T2K experiments — published this week in the journal Nature — have ruled out at least half of the parameter values that might dictate matter-antimatter asymmetry.
“Our data continue to suggest that nature prefers almost the maximal value of asymmetry for this process,” T2K researcher Laura Kormos, senior lecturer in physics at Lancaster, said in a news release. “It would be just like mother nature to have these seemingly insignificant, difficult to study, tiny particles be the driver for the existence of the universe.”
Every second of the day, trillions of neutrino particles pass through your body. In addition to possessing weak interacting forces, these tiny particles can also shift forms. They can come in three varieties and can oscillate between different forms.
Additionally, each neutrino is counterbalanced by an antineutrino. Scientists suspect that if varietal shifts work differently in neutrinos and antineutrinos, the difference could be great enough to explain why matter dominates antimatter– why the universe violates the so-called charge-parity symmetry models suggest it should maintain.
The T2K experiments have allowed scientists to test whether neutrino oscillation can break matter-antimatter symmetry.
“It has been shown that charge-parity violation in leptons could generate the matter-antimatter disparity through a process called leptogenesis,” researchers wrote in their paper.
Until now, scientists have been unable to constrain the parameters under which leptogenesis would work, but the latest experiments have allowed researchers to rule out almost half of the possible values — revealing a unique and previously undetected property of neutrinos.
“This result will help shape future stages of T2K and the development of next-generation experiments,” said Helen O’Keeffe, Lancaster physicist and T2K researchers. “It is a very exciting outcome from many years of work.”