Skip to main content

Neutrinos could be the key to unlocking the mysteries of the universe

  • Date04 August 2017

Results from a particle physics experiment that were released today show new hints that neutrinos may hold the answer to one of the most intriguing questions in the Universe: why has nature favoured matter over antimatter after the Big Bang?

T2k is a particle physics experiment that is a collaboration between groups including Royal Holloway, University of London and in several countries including Japan, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, South Korea, Poland, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, and the United States.

The experiment is looking into neutrinos; fundamental particles that make up our Universe that we don't know much about, yet every second around 50 trillion neutrinos from the Sun pass through your body.



David v Goliath

The results released today suggest there could be a difference, or asymmetry, between the behaviour of matter and antimatter. The Big Bang should have created equal amounts of matter and antimatter in the early universe, but today, everything we see from the smallest life forms on Earth to the largest stellar objects is made almost entirely of matter. Comparatively, there is not much antimatter to be found. Something must have happened to tip the balance.

One of the greatest challenges in physics is to figure out what happened to the antimatter, or why we see matter/antimatter asymmetry. If all types of matter and antimatter behaved the same way, they should have completely wiped each other out shortly after the Big Bang.

All change, please

To explore changes in neutrinos, known as oscillations, the T2K experiment fires a beam, which can switch from neutrinos to antineutrinos, from the J-PARC laboratory on the eastern coast of Japan. When the beam reaches the Super-Kamiokande detector, 295km away, scientists then look for a difference in the oscillations of neutrinos and anti-neutrinos.

The results indicate a high rate of electron neutrino appearances compared to electron antineutrinos – higher than first expected.

T2K at Royal Holloway

"It’s great to have so much new data for T2K," said Dr Asher Kaboth from the Department of Physics at Royal Holloway, who is one of the collaborators in the T2K experiment. "It’s such an exciting time for neutrino physics, and so much fun to work on these analyses."

Read more about the particle physics research happening at Royal Holloway, and find out about the courses on offer in the Department of Physics.

Related topics

Explore Royal Holloway

Get help paying for your studies at Royal Holloway through a range of scholarships and bursaries.

There are lots of exciting ways to get involved at Royal Holloway. Discover new interests and enjoy existing ones

Heading to university is exciting. Finding the right place to live will get you off to a good start

Whether you need support with your health or practical advice on budgeting or finding part-time work, we can help

Discover more about our 21 departments and schools

Find out why Royal Holloway is in the top 25% of UK universities for research rated ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’

Royal Holloway is a research intensive university and our academics collaborate across disciplines to achieve excellence.

Discover world-class research at Royal Holloway

Discover more about who we are today, and our vision for the future

Royal Holloway began as two pioneering colleges for the education of women in the 19th century, and their spirit lives on today

We’ve played a role in thousands of careers, some of them particularly remarkable

Find about our decision-making processes and the people who lead and manage Royal Holloway today