Where did the antimatter go?

Antimatter has been disappearing and Melbourne researcher Phillip Urquijo wants to know why.

Phillip Urquijo—looking for missing antimatter. Credit: Casamento photography
Phillip Urquijo—looking for missing antimatter. Credit: Casamento photography

He’s hoping that the Belle II experiment, commencing in Japan in 2017, will give him an answer—and if he’s lucky it will answer many other questions about the beginning of the Universe too.

“What I hope we’ll discover is clear evidence of new quarks, leptons or other force-carrying particles,” says Phillip. “And I’d be really excited if we found a new kind of Higgs particle using this indirect approach.”

Belle II will use the SuperKEKB particle accelerator, near Tokyo, smashing positrons into electrons to recreate the reactions that occurred early in the formation of our Universe.

They’ll then use precision measurements to study how the particles they create interact, hunting for signs of new particles of nature.

Where the Large Hadron Collider hopes to measure these types of fundamental particles directly, the complementary and powerful Belle II will be looking for the signs they exist.

The big question Belle II aims to answer is: what happened to all the antimatter that existed at the big bang, but has since disappeared?

“We’re some of the way to understanding antimatter decay—but we don’t yet understand enough about what is happening to explain what we see cosmologically,” says Phillip.

Phillip is the physics coordinator for Belle II, which has more than 600 collaborators from 23 nations. He’s based at the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Particle Physics at the Terascale in Melbourne, where he’s also building some of the components for the SuperKEKB.

For more information: ARC Centre of Excellence for Particle Physics at the Terascale, Phillip Urquijo, phillip.urquijo@unimelb.edu.au, www.coepp.org.au

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