ALPHA experiment observes the light spectrum of antimatter for the first time

Alpha Experiment in 2016
Alpha Experiment (Image: CERN)

The ALPHA collaboration reports in Nature the first ever measurement on the optical spectrum of an antimatter atom

When the electrons move from one orbit to another they absorb or emit light at specific wavelengths, forming the atom's spectrum. ALPHA result is the first observation of a spectral line in an antihydrogen atom, allowing the light spectrum of matter and antimatter to be compared for the first time. 

Within experimental limits
, the result shows no difference compared to the equivalent spectral line in hydrogen. This is consistent with the Standard Model of particle physics, the theory that best describes particles and the forces at work between them, which predicts that hydrogen and antihydrogen should have identical spectroscopic characteristicsMeasuring the antihydrogen spectrum with high-precision offers an extraordinary new tool to test whether matter behaves differently from antimatter and thus to further test the robustness of the Standard Model. 

The measurement was done by observing the so-called 1S-2S transition. The 2S state in atomic hydrogen is long-lived, leading to a narrow natural line width, so it is particularly suitable for precision measurement. 

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