Einstein’s general theory of relativity (GR), from 1915, remains the most successful description of gravitation. From the 1919 solar eclipse to the observation of gravitational waves, the theory has passed many crucial experimental tests. However, the evolving concepts of dark matter and dark energy illustrate that there is much to be learned about the gravitating content of the universe. Singularities in the GR theory and the lack of a quantum theory of gravity suggest that our picture is incomplete. It is thus prudent to explore gravity in exotic physical systems. Antimatter was unknown to Einstein in 1915. Dirac’s theory appeared in 1928; the positron was observed in 1932. There has since been much speculation about gravity and antimatter. The theoretical consensus is that any laboratory mass must be attracted by the Earth, although some authors have considered the cosmological consequences if antimatter should be repelled by matter. In GR, the Weak Equivalence Principle (WEP) requires that all masses react identically to gravity, independent of their internal structure. Here we show that antihydrogen atoms, released from magnetic confinement in the ALPHA-g apparatus, behave in a way consistent with gravitational attraction to the Earth. Repulsive ‘antigravity’ is ruled out in this case. This experiment paves the way for precision studies of the magnitude of the gravitational acceleration between anti-atoms and the Earth to test the WEP.
Work support by the DOE Office of Fusion Energy Sciences and the NSF Program in Plasma Physics