Have you ever wondered why the universe is mostly made of matter? This is one of the most common questions from physics and although scientists have worked a lot to answer it over the years, the information is not enough to convince unadvised people.
The Big Bang theory supports the idea that the event produced matter and antimatter in equal quantities. However, time demonstrated that the antimatter is consisted of “antiparticles”, mirrored images of matter that bear charges opposite to classical particles: protons, neutrons, electrons and others. Even if we consider this, we cannot ignore the fact that most of our surrounding universe is made of material particles.
The Big Bang theory can be connected with the neutrino, a particle that despite the fact that it doesn’t have a definite mass, it can act as its’ own antiparticle; it can oscillate between the material and anti-material version.
How can we confirm this theory
Researchers say that we can determine if the neutrino can act as its’ own antiparticle through a rare process called ”neutrinoless double-beta decay”. By this process, a stable isotope loses particles, like antineutrinos, as it becomes smaller in size. If the neutrino can act as its’ own antiparticle, the antineutrinos would ”annihilate” each other in a ”neutrinoless” process.
Such experiment is conducted recently under the code name CUORE (Cryogenic Underground Observatory for Rare Events). Its’ purpose is to observe the neutrinoless double-beta decay from the natural decadence of 988 tellurium dioxide crystals.
What are the results
A team of researchers, including physicists at MIT, are continuously watching this experiment. A report with results from the first two months of collecting data has been published this week in the Physical Review Letters. Upon their calculations, a tellurium atom can undergo a neutrinoless double-beta decay once at every 10 septillion years, so the neutrino might not be its’ own antiparticle.
Researchers will continue the experiment within the next 10-15 years. Also, they are preparing a new experiment – CUPID, that will follow the process described above with a larger number of atoms.