The Universe’s Dark Mystery – Where Did All the Antimatter Go?

“Antimatter” is the term assigned to the ambiguous counterpart of matter possessing all the same properties and abilities to make up atoms and molecules. But with one crucial difference- It possesses an opposite charge.  For example, consider the component of matter- the electron having a mass of 9.11 x 10^-31 kg, quantum spin of ½ and charge of -1.6 x 10^-9 coulombs.

Its antimatter evil twin is the position which has a mass of 9.11 x 10^-31 kg, quantum spin of ½ and charge of … 1.6 x 10^-9 coulombs.

This is the same for every other particle out there. There’s an antimatter twin for all the fundamental particles that make up our daily lives. As per our present observation and understanding, matter and their antimatter counterparts are paired up like this and they’re symmetric. Every particle of normal matter that is  produced in a reaction comes matching with its antimatter sibling.

This leads to the conclusion that our universe ought to be swimming with antimatter as it exists in equal parts with normal matter. Also, it is understood that when matter and antimatter meet, it can get volatile. Just as fundamental interactions produce the pairs in perfect symmetry in, they are destroyed in symmetry as well. When a particle finally comes in contact with its antiparticle twin, they combust in a blaze of glory. Their combined matter is converted into energy, typically in the form of high-energy gamma-ray radiation.

A Disturbance In The Force

Abundant free-floating antimatter is not visible al around us because we cannot see the aftermath of the inevitable destruction of matter-antimatter contacts. The universe is filled with constant interacting particles that maybe high-energy entities zipping across light-years, streams of emissions escaping from galaxies and new debris drifting in from cosmic collisions. In our universe, if a decent proportion of antimatter was existent, it would probably lead to a more energetic environment.

So does that mean the antimatter isn’t here?

One possible answer is that our universe simply originated this way, with abundant matter and a severe lack of antimatter. This isn’t much of an explanation leading to more compelling arguments in scientific circles.

Another possibility is that an event in the early universe caused an imbalance between matter and antimatter. The early, early, early days of the universe loaded with cosmic physics and exotic interactions. Maybe the young universe was evolving and growing with new particles occurring with an equal and opposite antiparticle. And then a strange imbalance occurred that produced more matter than antimatter. Many pairs would be annihilated leaving only a few normal particles. Amazingly, just one particle in a billion would be sufficient to lay the foundations for all the stars and galaxies that we see today.

Strength through weakness

It would indeed have to be a very bizarre set of conditions to cause such a curious imbalance. Our universe is governed by rules of how particles and forces typically interact and behave. These create the framework for all the brilliant interactions that make up the richness of our existence.

These same rules indicate the divergence between matter and antimatter ought not to be in the first place. Whatever interaction or process led to matter’s ultimate victory over its counterpart had to be strange indeed. Maybe it started with producing not just an excess quantity of regular matter, but also an excess quantity of charge to counterbalance it. As total charges stay constant throughout a process, that matter-loving route would’ve been perfectly balanced by a twin antimatter-loving road.

Also, this process must have occurred with a sharp boundary, when the infant cosmos was transforming rapidly from one state to another. It’s only under such circumstances that physics would permit such a rule-breaking violation could take place; else a universe in equilibrium would automatically end up balancing all interactions out anyway.

What in all of the known physics is so powerful that it could make the antimatter go away? There are some indications and suggestions buried in rare particle interactions involving weak nuclear force. At present, we understand these interactions only faintly, especially the way they would occur in the early universe. But even there our best supposition for its matter-favoring ability put it far, far below the minimum essential to explain our present situation.

The origins of the asymmetry between matter and antimatter is an unresolved problem in physics that pushes the boundaries of current knowledge and our understanding of the earliest moments of our universe.


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