Scientists discover “angel particle” that is its own antiparticle

The theory dates back to 1937

Every fundamental particle in the universe has an antiparticle, which has the same mass but the opposite charge. If a particle should ever meet its antiparticle, the two would annihilate each other in a flash of energy. But it’s long been theorized that there’s an exception to the rule, with certain particles that are actually their own antiparticles. Now, scientists from Stanford and the University of California have found the first strong evidence for this type of particle, which they dub the “angel particle”.

The theory dates back to 1937, when physicist Ettore Majorana highlighted a gap in the fermion family of particles. Protons, electrons, neutrons, neutrinos and quarks are all fermions, and all have corresponding antiparticles, but according to Majorana’s calculations, there should be particles that are their own antiparticles.

Since they have no charge, neutrons and neutrinos were the best candidates to be these Majorana fermions, but antineutrons have since been discovered. There’s still a big question mark hanging over neutrinos though, and experiments are currently underway to determine if they are in fact their own antiparticle. However, the difficulty of the experiments means an answer is still more than a decade away.

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