Researchers say that their discovery "will impact our understanding of the fundamental nature of light." The discovery could alter our established thinking of how a key aspect of light -- its angular momentum -- is understood. Angular momentum is a measurement of how something rotates around its own axis, which light is known to do. Essentially, as photons -- tiny particles of light -- travel through space, they twist and turn around their axes.
Previously it was thought that light's angular momentum was a constant, but the team at Trinity discovered that under certain conditions, it only spins around its axis half as much as it should.
Light, it seems, doesn't necessarily conform to the rules we thought it did. This could mean big things, the researchers say.
"It's a bit like a tiny, light merry-go-round at a playground. It goes round and round, which is more or less they way people understood light to work. We thought it was impossible for a photon to send you halfway round, but it turns out, it's not," states lead researcher Paul Eastham.
"What I think is so exciting about this result is that even this fundamental property of light, that physicists have always thought was fixed, can be changed."
The discovery was published in the scientific journal "Science Advances."