Antimatter - long a staple of science fiction - has been measured for the first time, a team of physicists announced Wednesday.

A team of physics ALPHA collaborators measured the elusive anti-hydrogen - an atom of hydrogen with the same mass, but opposite charge as an atom of hydrogen.

Measuring antimatter is difficult because once matter and anti-matter interact, both are destroyed, researchers said.

This is the first time that anyone has ever interacted with an antimatter atom, Mike Hayden, physics professor at Simon Fraser University in Canada and part of the research team, told CBC News.

We've tried to look for what you might call a sign of a fingerprint of this atom. You could think of it like trying to communicate with this atom, or manipulate it, he said.

The journal Nature published the findings Wednesday.

We've demonstrated that we can probe the internal structure of the antihydrogen atom, ALPHA team spokesman Jeffrey Hangst said in a statement, and we're very excited about that. We now know that it's possible to design experiments to make detailed measurements of antiatoms.

Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe and we understand its structure extremely well, said Hangst. Now we can finally begin to coax the truth out of antihydrogen. Are they different? We can confidently say that time will tell.