ALPHA is an international collaboration based at CERN, and who is working with trapped antihydrogen atoms, the antimatter counterpart of the simplest atom, hydrogen. By precise comparisons of hydrogen and antihydrogen, the experiment hopes to study fundamental symmetries between matter and antimatter.
The first beam of the 2011 season was delivered to ALPHA from the AD (Antiproton Decelerator) on the night of May 9th.
The image here shows some of the first antiprotons captured in the trap. It's produced by dumping the particles onto an MCP/phosphor -- the bright circular shape is the electron plasma used to cool the antiprotons from a few keV (kiloelectron volts = 1000 electron volts) to a few eV. The more diffuse cloud off to an angle on the left is the antiproton cloud. There are about 30,000 antiprotons here, which is what we get from one shot (cycle) of the AD.
Here's to another great run!
The Low Energy Antiproton Physics Conference, held every two years, is one of the most important conferences for the antihydrogen community. This year, more than fifteen members of the ALPHA Collaboration travelled to TRIUMF, in Vacouver, Canada to present results and discuss with the rest of the community. The conference, which had ALPHA member Makoto Fujiwara as the chairman of the local organising committee was very successful. You can find more details about LEAP 2011 here, as well as some of the ALPHA presentations in the program.
Physics World, the international physics magazine produced by the Institute of Physics, has named ALPHA's recent trapping of antihydrogen as part of the #1 physics breakthrough of 2010, jointly with the ASACUSA Collaboration's formation of antihydrogen in a 'cusp' trap. The complete list of ten breakthroughs from 2010 includes measurements of the atmosphere of an exoplanet 130 light-years away, a Bose-Einstein condenstate of photons, a new measurement of the proton size, and the first proton collisions at the LHC. Read the article and see the fill list here.