In quantum mechanics, a boson (/ˈboʊsɒn/,[1] /ˈboʊzɒn/[2]) is a particle that follows Bose–Einstein statistics. Bosons make up one of the two classes of particles, the other being fermions.[3] The name boson was coined by Paul Dirac[4][5] to commemorate the contribution of Indian physicist and professor of physics at University of Calcutta and at University of Dhaka, Satyendra Nath Bose[6][7] in developing, with Albert Einstein, Bose–Einstein statistics—which theorizes the characteristics of elementary particles.[8]

Examples of bosons include fundamental particles such as photons, gluons, and W and Z bosons (the four force-carrying gauge bosons of the Standard Model), the recently discovered Higgs boson, and the hypothetical graviton of quantum gravity. Some composite particles are also bosons, such as mesons and stable nuclei of even mass number such as deuterium (with one proton and one neutron, atomic mass number = 2), helium-4, or lead-208;[a] as well as some quasiparticles (e.g. Cooper pairs, plasmons, and phonons).[9]:130

An important characteristic of bosons is that their statistics do not restrict the number of them that occupy the same quantum state. This property is exemplified by helium-4 when it is cooled to become a superfluid.[10] Unlike bosons, two identical fermions cannot occupy the same quantum space. Whereas the elementary particles that make up matter (i.e. leptons and quarks) are fermions, the elementary bosons are force carriers that function as the 'glue' holding matter together.[11] This property holds for all particles with integer spin (s = 0, 1, 2, etc.) as a consequence of the spin–statistics theorem. When a gas of Bose particles is cooled down to temperatures very close to absolute zero, then the kinetic energy of the particles decreases to a negligible amount, and they condense into the lowest energy level state. This state is called a Bose-Einstein condensate. It is believed that this property is the explanation of superfluidity.


Bosons may be either elementary, like photons, or composite, like mesons.

While most bosons are composite particles, in the Standard Model of Particle Physics there are five bosons which are elementary:

Higgs boson


  Gluons (eight different types)

  Neutral weak boson

  Charged weak bosons (two types)

There may be a sixth tensor boson (spin=2), the graviton (G), that would be the force-carrier for gravity. It remains a hypothetical elementary particle since all attempts so far to incorporate gravitation into the Standard Model have failed. If the graviton does exist, it must be a boson, and could conceivably be a gauge boson.[b]

Composite bosons, such as helium nuclei, are important in superfluidity and other applications of Bose–Einstein condensates.


Symmetric wavefunction for a (bosonic) 2-particle state in an infinite square well potential.

Bosons differ from fermions, which obey Fermi–Dirac statistics. Two or more identical fermions cannot occupy the same quantum state (see Pauli exclusion principle).

Since bosons with the same energy can occupy the same place in space, bosons are often force carrier particles, including composite bosons such as mesons. Fermions are usually associated with matter (although in quantum mechanics the distinction between the two concepts is not clearcut).

Bosons are particles which obey Bose–Einstein statistics: When one swaps two bosons (of the same species), the wavefunction of the system is unchanged.[12] Fermions, on the other hand, obey Fermi–Dirac statistics and the Pauli exclusion principle: Two fermions cannot occupy the same quantum state, accounting for the "rigidity" or "stiffness" of matter which includes fermions. Thus fermions are sometimes said to be the constituents of matter, while bosons are said to be the particles that transmit interactions (force carriers), or the constituents of radiation. The quantum fields of bosons are bosonic fields, obeying canonical commutation relations.

The properties of lasers and masers, superfluid helium-4 and Bose–Einstein condensates are all consequences of statistics of bosons. Another result is that the spectrum of a photon gas in thermal equilibrium is a Planck spectrum, one example of which is black-body radiation; another is the thermal radiation of the opaque early Universe seen today as microwave background radiation. Interactions between elementary particles are called fundamental interactions. The fundamental interactions of virtual bosons with real particles result in all forces we know.

All known elementary and composite particles are bosons or fermions, depending on their spin: Particles with half-integer spin are fermions; particles with integer spin are bosons. In the framework of nonrelativistic quantum mechanics, this is a purely empirical observation. In relativistic quantum field theory, the spin–statistics theorem shows that half-integer spin particles cannot be bosons and integer spin particles cannot be fermions.[13]

In large systems, the difference between bosonic and fermionic statistics is only apparent at large densities — when their wave functions overlap. At low densities, both types of statistics are well approximated by Maxwell–Boltzmann statistics, which is described by classical mechanics.

Elementary bosons

All observed elementary particles are either fermions or bosons. The observed elementary bosons are all gauge bosons: photons, W and Z bosons, gluons, except the Higgs boson which is a scalar boson.

Finally, many approaches to quantum gravity postulate a force carrier for gravity, the graviton, which is a boson of spin plus or minus two.

Composite bosons

Composite particles (such as hadrons, nuclei, and atoms) can be bosons or fermions depending on their constituents. More precisely, because of the relation between spin and statistics, a particle containing an even number of fermions is a boson, since it has integer spin.

Examples include the following:

  • Any meson, since mesons contain one quark and one antiquark.
  • The nucleus of a carbon-12 atom, which contains 6 protons and 6 neutrons.
  • The helium-4 atom, consisting of 2 protons, 2 neutrons and 2 electrons.
  • The nucleus of deuterium, known as a deuteron, and its anti-particle.

The number of bosons within a composite particle made up of simple particles bound with a potential has no effect on whether it is a boson or a fermion.

Quantum states

Bose–Einstein statistics encourages identical bosons to crowd into one quantum state, but not any state is necessarily convenient for it. Aside of statistics, bosons can interact – for example, helium-4 atoms are repulsed by intermolecular force on a very close approach, and if one hypothesizes their condensation in a spatially-localized state, then gains from the statistics cannot overcome a prohibitive force potential. A spatially-delocalized state (i.e. with low |ψ(x)|) is preferable: if the number density of the condensate is about the same as in ordinary liquid or solid state, then the repulsive potential for the N-particle condensate in such state can be no higher than for a liquid or a crystalline lattice of the same N particles described without quantum statistics. Thus, Bose–Einstein statistics for a material particle is not a mechanism to bypass physical restrictions on the density of the corresponding substance, and superfluid liquid helium has a density comparable to the density of ordinary liquid matter. Spatially-delocalized states also permit for a low momentum according to the uncertainty principle, hence for low kinetic energy; this is why superfluidity and superconductivity are usually observed in low temperatures.

Photons do not interact with themselves and hence do not experience this difference in states where to crowd (see squeezed coherent state).

See also


  1. ^ Even-mass-number nuclides, which comprise 153/254 = ~ 60% of all stable nuclides, are bosons, i.e. they have integer spin. Almost all (148 of the 153) are even-proton, even-neutron (EE) nuclides, which necessarily have spin 0 because of pairing. The remaining 5 stable bosonic nuclides are odd-proton or odd-neutron stable nuclides (see even and odd atomic nuclei#Odd proton, odd neutron); these odd–odd bosons are: 2
    , 6
    , 14
    and 180m
    ). All have nonzero integer spin.
  2. ^ Despite being the carrier of the gravitational force which interacts with mass, the graviton is expected to have no mass.


  1. ^ Wells, John C. (1990). Longman pronunciation dictionary. Harlow, England: Longman. ISBN 978-0582053830. entry "Boson"
  2. ^ "boson". Collins Dictionary.
  3. ^ Carroll, Sean (2007). Guidebook. Dark Matter, Dark Energy: The dark side of the universe. The Teaching Company. Part 2, p. 43. ISBN 978-1598033502. ... boson: A force-carrying particle, as opposed to a matter particle (fermion). Bosons can be piled on top of each other without limit. Examples include photons, gluons, gravitons, weak bosons, and the Higgs boson. The spin of a boson is always an integer, such as 0, 1, 2, and so on ...
  4. ^ Notes on Dirac's lecture Developments in Atomic Theory at Le Palais de la Découverte, 6 December 1945. UKNATARCHI Dirac Papers. BW83/2/257889.
  5. ^ Farmelo, Graham (2009-08-25). The Strangest Man: The Hidden Life of Paul Dirac, Mystic of the Atom. Basic Books. p. 331. ISBN 9780465019922.
  6. ^ Daigle, Katy (10 July 2012). "India: Enough about Higgs, let's discuss the boson". AP News. Retrieved 10 July 2012.
  7. ^ Bal, Hartosh Singh (19 September 2012). "The Bose in the Boson". The New York Times blog. Retrieved 21 September 2012.
  8. ^ "Higgs boson: The poetry of subatomic particles". BBC News. 4 July 2012. Retrieved 6 July 2012.
  9. ^ Poole, Charles P. Jr. (11 March 2004). Encyclopedic Dictionary of Condensed Matter Physics. Academic Press. ISBN 978-0-08-054523-3.
  10. ^ "boson". Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. Retrieved 21 March 2010.
  11. ^ Carroll, Sean. "Explain it in 60 seconds: Bosons". Symmetry Magazine. Fermilab/SLAC. Retrieved 15 February 2013.
  12. ^ Srednicki, Mark (2007). Quantum Field Theory. Cambridge University Press. pp. 28–29. ISBN 978-0-521-86449-7.
  13. ^ Sakurai, J.J. (1994). Modern Quantum Mechanics (Revised ed.). Addison-Wesley. p. 362. ISBN 978-0-201-53929-5.
Boson sampling

Boson sampling constitutes a restricted model of non-universal quantum computation introduced by S. Aaronson and A. Arkhipov. It consists of sampling from the probability distribution of identical bosons scattered by a linear interferometer. Although the problem is well defined for any bosonic particles, its photonic version is currently considered as the most promising platform for a scalable implementation of a boson sampling device, which makes it a non-universal approach to linear optical quantum computing. Moreover, while not universal, the boson sampling scheme is strongly believed to implement a classically hard task using far fewer physical resources than a full linear-optical quantum computing setup. This makes it an outstanding candidate for demonstrating the power of quantum computation in the near term.

Elementary particle

In particle physics, an elementary particle or fundamental particle is a subatomic particle with no sub structure, thus not composed of other particles. Particles currently thought to be elementary include the fundamental fermions (quarks, leptons, antiquarks, and antileptons), which generally are "matter particles" and "antimatter particles", as well as the fundamental bosons (gauge bosons and the Higgs boson), which generally are "force particles" that mediate interactions among fermions. A particle containing two or more elementary particles is a composite particle.

Everyday matter is composed of atoms, once presumed to be matter's elementary particles—atom meaning "unable to cut" in Greek—although the atom's existence remained controversial until about 1910, as some leading physicists regarded molecules as mathematical illusions, and matter as ultimately composed of energy. Soon, subatomic constituents of the atom were identified. As the 1930s opened, the electron and the proton had been observed, along with the photon, the particle of electromagnetic radiation. At that time, the recent advent of quantum mechanics was radically altering the conception of particles, as a single particle could seemingly span a field as would a wave, a paradox still eluding satisfactory explanation.Via quantum theory, protons and neutrons were found to contain quarks—up quarks and down quarks—now considered elementary particles. And within a molecule, the electron's three degrees of freedom (charge, spin, orbital) can separate via the wavefunction into three quasiparticles (holon, spinon, orbiton). Yet a free electron—which is not orbiting an atomic nucleus and lacks orbital motion—appears unsplittable and remains regarded as an elementary particle.Around 1980, an elementary particle's status as indeed elementary—an ultimate constituent of substance—was mostly discarded for a more practical outlook, embodied in particle physics' Standard Model, what's known as science's most experimentally successful theory. Many elaborations upon and theories beyond the Standard Model, including the popular supersymmetry, double the number of elementary particles by hypothesizing that each known particle associates with a "shadow" partner far more massive, although all such superpartners remain undiscovered. Meanwhile, an elementary boson mediating gravitation—the graviton—remains hypothetical.

Exotic star

An exotic star is a hypothetical compact star composed of something other than electrons, protons, neutrons, or muons, and balanced against gravitational collapse by degeneracy pressure or other quantum properties. Exotic stars include quark stars (composed of quarks) and perhaps strange stars (composed of strange quark matter, a condensate of up, down and strange quarks), as well as speculative preon stars (composed of preons, which are hypothetical particles and "building blocks" of quarks, should quarks be decomposable into component sub-particles). Of the various types of exotic star proposed, the most well evidenced and understood is the quark star.

Exotic stars are largely theoretical – partly because it is difficult to test in detail how such forms of matter may behave, and partly because prior to the fledgling technology of gravitational-wave astronomy, there was no satisfactory means of detecting cosmic objects that do not radiate electromagnetically or through known particles. So it is not yet possible to verify novel cosmic objects of this nature by distinguishing them from known objects. Candidates for such objects are occasionally identified based on indirect evidence gained from observable properties.

Gauge boson

In particle physics, a gauge boson is a force carrier, a bosonic particle that carries any of the fundamental interactions of nature, commonly called forces. Elementary particles, whose interactions are described by a gauge theory, interact with each other by the exchange of gauge bosons—usually as virtual particles.

All known gauge bosons have a spin of 1. Therefore, all known gauge bosons are vector bosons.

Gauge bosons are different from the other kinds of bosons: first, fundamental scalar bosons (the Higgs boson); second, mesons, which are composite bosons, made of quarks; third, larger composite, non-force-carrying bosons, such as certain atoms.

Goldstone boson

In particle and condensed matter physics, Goldstone bosons or Nambu–Goldstone bosons (NGBs) are bosons that appear necessarily in models exhibiting spontaneous breakdown of continuous symmetries. They were discovered by Yoichiro Nambu in the context of the BCS superconductivity mechanism, and subsequently elucidated by Jeffrey Goldstone, and systematically generalized in the context of quantum field theory.These spinless bosons correspond to the spontaneously broken internal symmetry generators, and are characterized by the quantum numbers of these.

They transform nonlinearly (shift) under the action of these generators, and can thus be excited out of the asymmetric vacuum by these generators. Thus, they can be thought of as the excitations of the field in the broken symmetry directions in group space—and are massless if the spontaneously broken symmetry is not also broken explicitly.

If, instead, the symmetry is not exact, i.e. if it is explicitly broken as well as spontaneously broken, then the Nambu–Goldstone bosons are not massless, though they typically remain relatively light; they are then called pseudo-Goldstone bosons or pseudo-Nambu–Goldstone bosons (abbreviated PNGBs).

Higgs boson

The Higgs boson is an elementary particle in the Standard Model of particle physics, produced by the quantum excitation of the Higgs field, one of the fields in particle physics theory. It is named after physicist Peter Higgs, who in 1964, along with five other scientists, proposed the mechanism which suggested the existence of such a particle. Its existence was confirmed in 2012 by the ATLAS and CMS collaborations based on collisions in the LHC at CERN.

On December 10, 2013, two of the physicists, Peter Higgs and François Englert, were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for their theoretical predictions. Although Higgs's name has come to be associated with this theory (the Higgs mechanism), several researchers between about 1960 and 1972 independently developed different parts of it.

In mainstream media the Higgs boson has often been called the "God particle", from a 1993 book on the topic, although the nickname is strongly disliked by many physicists, including Higgs himself, who regard it as sensationalistic.

Higgs mechanism

In the Standard Model of particle physics, the Higgs mechanism is essential to explain the generation mechanism of the property "mass" for gauge bosons. Without the Higgs mechanism, all bosons (one of the two classes of particles, the other being fermions) would be considered massless, but measurements show that the W+, W−, and Z bosons actually have relatively large masses of around 80 GeV/c2. The Higgs field resolves this conundrum. The simplest description of the mechanism adds a quantum field (the Higgs field) that permeates all space to the Standard Model. Below some extremely high temperature, the field causes spontaneous symmetry breaking during interactions. The breaking of symmetry triggers the Higgs mechanism, causing the bosons it interacts with to have mass. In the Standard Model, the phrase "Higgs mechanism" refers specifically to the generation of masses for the W±, and Z weak gauge bosons through electroweak symmetry breaking. The Large Hadron Collider at CERN announced results consistent with the Higgs particle on 14 March 2013, making it extremely likely that the field, or one like it, exists, and explaining how the Higgs mechanism takes place in nature.

The mechanism was proposed in 1962 by Philip Warren Anderson, following work in the late 1950s on symmetry breaking in superconductivity and a 1960 paper by Yoichiro Nambu that discussed its application within particle physics.

A theory able to finally explain mass generation without "breaking" gauge theory was published almost simultaneously by three independent groups in 1964: by Robert Brout and François Englert; by Peter Higgs; and by Gerald Guralnik, C. R. Hagen, and Tom Kibble. The Higgs mechanism is therefore also called the Brout-Englert-Higgs mechanism, or Englert-Brout-Higgs-Guralnik-Hagen-Kibble mechanism, Anderson-Higgs mechanism, Anderson-Higgs-Kibble mechanism, Higgs-Kibble mechanism by Abdus Salam and ABEGHHK'tH mechanism [for Anderson, Brout, Englert, Guralnik, Hagen, Higgs, Kibble, and 't Hooft] by Peter Higgs.On 8 October 2013, following the discovery at CERN's Large Hadron Collider of a new particle that appeared to be the long-sought Higgs boson predicted by the theory, it was announced that Peter Higgs and François Englert had been awarded the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physics.

Large Hadron Collider

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is the world's largest and most powerful particle collider and the largest machine in the world. It was built by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) between 1998 and 2008 in collaboration with over 10,000 scientists and hundreds of universities and laboratories, as well as more than 100 countries. It lies in a tunnel 27 kilometres (17 mi) in circumference and as deep as 175 metres (574 ft) beneath the France–Switzerland border near Geneva. Its first data-taking period lasted from March 2010 to early 2013 at an energy of 3.5 to 4 teraelectronvolts (TeV) per beam (7 to 8 TeV total), about four times the previous world record for a collider and accelerator. Afterwards, the accelerator was taken offline and upgraded over the course of two years. It was restarted in early 2015 for its second research run, reaching 6.5 TeV per beam (13 TeV total, the present world record). At the end of 2018, it entered a second two-year shutdown period.

The aim of the LHC is to allow physicists to test the predictions of different theories of particle physics, including measuring the properties of the Higgs boson and searching for the large family of new particles predicted by supersymmetric theories, as well as other unsolved questions of physics.

The collider has four crossing points, around which are positioned seven detectors, each designed for certain kinds of research. The LHC primarily collides proton beams, but it can also use beams of heavy ions. Lead–lead collisions took place in 2010, 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2018, proton–lead collisions were performed for short periods in 2013 and 2016, and a short run of xenon–xenon collisions took place in 2017.The LHC's computing grid is a world record holder. Data from collisions were produced at an unprecedented rate for the time of first collisions (tens of petabytes per year), a major challenge at the time, to be analysed by a grid-based computer network infrastructure connecting 170 computing centres in 42 countries as of 2017 – by 2012 the Worldwide LHC Computing Grid was also the world's largest distributed computing grid, comprising over 170 computing facilities in a worldwide network across 36 countries.

List of particles

This article includes a list of the different types of atomic- and sub-atomic particles found or hypothesized to exist in the whole of the universe categorized by type. Properties of the various particles listed are also given, as well as the laws that the particles follow. For individual lists of the different particles, see the list below.

Peter Higgs

Peter Ware Higgs (born 29 May 1929) is a British theoretical physicist, emeritus professor in the University of Edinburgh, and Nobel Prize laureate for his work on the mass of subatomic particles.In the 1960s, he proposed that broken symmetry in electroweak theory could explain the origin of mass of elementary particles in general and of the W and Z bosons in particular. This so-called Higgs mechanism, which was proposed by several physicists besides Higgs at about the same time, predicts the existence of a new particle, the Higgs boson, the detection of which became one of the great goals of physics. On 4 July 2012, CERN announced the discovery of the boson at the Large Hadron Collider. The Higgs mechanism is generally accepted as an important ingredient in the Standard Model of particle physics, without which certain particles would have no mass.Higgs has been honoured with a number of awards in recognition of his work, including the 1981 Hughes Medal from the Royal Society; the 1984 Rutherford Medal from the Institute of Physics; the 1997 Dirac Medal and Prize for outstanding contributions to theoretical physics from the Institute of Physics; the 1997 High Energy and Particle Physics Prize by the European Physical Society; the 2004 Wolf Prize in Physics; the 2009 Oskar Klein Memorial Lecture medal from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences; the 2010 American Physical Society J. J. Sakurai Prize for Theoretical Particle Physics; and a unique Higgs Medal from the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2012. The discovery of the Higgs boson prompted fellow physicist Stephen Hawking to note that he thought that Higgs should receive the Nobel Prize in Physics for his work, which he finally did, shared with François Englert in 2013. Higgs was appointed to the Order of the Companions of Honour in the 2013 New Year Honours and in 2015 the Royal Society awarded him the Copley Medal, the world's oldest scientific prize.

Scalar boson

A scalar boson is a boson whose spin equals zero. Boson means that it has an integer-valued spin; the scalar fixes this value to 0.

The name scalar boson arises from quantum field theory. It refers to the particular transformation properties under Lorentz transformation.

Standard Model

The Standard Model of particle physics is the theory describing three of the four known fundamental forces (the electromagnetic, weak, and strong interactions, and not including the gravitational force) in the universe, as well as classifying all known elementary particles. It was developed in stages throughout the latter half of the 20th century, through the work of many scientists around the world, with the current formulation being finalized in the mid-1970s upon experimental confirmation of the existence of quarks. Since then, confirmation of the top quark (1995), the tau neutrino (2000), and the Higgs boson (2012) have added further credence to the Standard Model. In addition, the Standard Model has predicted various properties of weak neutral currents and the W and Z bosons with great accuracy.

Although the Standard Model is believed to be theoretically self-consistent and has demonstrated huge successes in providing experimental predictions, it leaves some phenomena unexplained and falls short of being a complete theory of fundamental interactions. It does not fully explain baryon asymmetry, incorporate the full theory of gravitation as described by general relativity, or account for the accelerating expansion of the Universe as possibly described by dark energy. The model does not contain any viable dark matter particle that possesses all of the required properties deduced from observational cosmology. It also does not incorporate neutrino oscillations and their non-zero masses.

The development of the Standard Model was driven by theoretical and experimental particle physicists alike. For theorists, the Standard Model is a paradigm of a quantum field theory, which exhibits a wide range of physics including spontaneous symmetry breaking, anomalies and non-perturbative behavior. It is used as a basis for building more exotic models that incorporate hypothetical particles, extra dimensions, and elaborate symmetries (such as supersymmetry) in an attempt to explain experimental results at variance with the Standard Model, such as the existence of dark matter and neutrino oscillations.

Stop squark

In particle physics, a stop squark, symbol t͂, is the superpartner of the top quark as predicted by supersymmetry (SUSY). It is a sfermion, which means it is a spin-0 boson (scalar boson). While the top quark is the heaviest known quark, the stop squark is actually often the lightest squark in many supersymmetry models.The stop squark is a key ingredient of a wide range of SUSY models that address the hierarchy problem of the Standard Model (SM) in a natural way. A boson partner to the top quark would stabilize the Higgs boson mass against quadratically divergent quantum corrections, provided its mass is close to the electroweak symmetry breaking energy scale. If this was the case then the stop squark would be accessible at the Large Hadron Collider. In the generic R-parity conserving Minimal Supersymmetric Standard Model (MSSM) the scalar partners of right-handed and left-handed top quarks mix to form two stop mass eigenstates. Depending on the specific details of the SUSY model and the mass hierarchy of the sparticles, the stop might decay into a bottom quark and a chargino, with a subsequent decay of the chargino into the lightest neutralino (which is often the lightest supersymmetric particle).

Many searches for evidence of the stop squark have been performed by both the ATLAS and CMS experiments at the LHC but so far no signal has been discovered. In January 2019, the CMS Collaboration published findings excluding stop squarks with masses as large as 1230 GeV at 95% confidence level.

Top quark

The top quark, also known as the t quark (symbol: t) or truth quark, is the most massive of all observed elementary particles. Like all quarks, the top quark is a fermion with spin 1/2, and experiences all four fundamental interactions: gravitation, electromagnetism, weak interactions, and strong interactions. It has an electric charge of +2/3 e. It has a mass of 172.44 ± 0.13 (stat) ± 0.47 (syst)GeV/c2, which is about the same mass as an atom of tungsten. The antiparticle of the top quark is the top antiquark (symbol: t, sometimes called antitop quark or simply antitop), which differs from it only in that some of its properties have equal magnitude but opposite sign.

The top quark interacts primarily by the strong interaction, but can only decay through the weak force. It decays to a W boson and either a bottom quark (most frequently), a strange quark, or, on the rarest of occasions, a down quark. The Standard Model predicts its mean lifetime to be roughly 5×10−25 s. This is about a twentieth of the timescale for strong interactions, and therefore it does not form hadrons, giving physicists a unique opportunity to study a "bare" quark (all other quarks hadronize, meaning that they combine with other quarks to form hadrons, and can only be observed as such). Because it is so massive, the properties of the top quark allow predictions to be made of the mass of the Higgs boson under certain extensions of the Standard Model (see Mass and coupling to the Higgs boson below). As such, it is extensively studied as a means to discriminate between competing theories.

Its existence (and that of the bottom quark) was postulated in 1973 by Makoto Kobayashi and Toshihide Maskawa to explain the observed CP violations in kaon decay, and was discovered in 1995 by the CDF and DØ experiments at Fermilab. Kobayashi and Maskawa won the 2008 Nobel Prize in Physics for the prediction of the top and bottom quark, which together form the third generation of quarks.

Vector boson

In particle physics, a vector boson is a boson with the spin equal to 1. The vector bosons regarded as elementary particles in the Standard Model are the gauge bosons, the force carriers of fundamental interactions: the photon of electromagnetism, the W and Z bosons of the weak interaction, and the gluons of the strong interaction. Some composite particles are vector bosons, for instance any vector meson (quark and antiquark). During the 1970s and 1980s, intermediate vector bosons—vector bosons of "intermediate" mass (a mass between the two of the vector mesons)—drew much attention in particle physics.

W and Z bosons

The W and Z bosons are together known as the weak or more generally as the intermediate vector bosons. These elementary particles mediate the weak interaction; the respective symbols are W+, W−, and Z. The W bosons have either a positive or negative electric charge of 1 elementary charge and are each other's antiparticles. The Z boson is electrically neutral and is its own antiparticle. The three particles have a spin of 1. The W bosons have a magnetic moment, but the Z has none. All three of these particles are very short-lived, with a half-life of about 3×10−25 s. Their experimental discovery was a triumph for what is now known as the Standard Model of particle physics.

The W bosons are named after the weak force. The physicist Steven Weinberg named the additional particle the "Z particle", and later gave the explanation that it was the last additional particle needed by the model. The W bosons had already been named, and the Z bosons have zero electric charge.The two W bosons are verified mediators of neutrino absorption and emission. During these processes, the W boson charge induces electron or positron emission or absorption, thus causing nuclear transmutation. The Z boson is not involved in the absorption or emission of electrons and positrons.

The Z boson mediates the transfer of momentum, spin and energy when neutrinos scatter elastically from matter (a process which conserves charge). Such behavior is almost as common as inelastic neutrino interactions and may be observed in bubble chambers upon irradiation with neutrino beams. Whenever an electron is observed as a new free particle suddenly moving with kinetic energy, it is inferred to be a result of a neutrino interacting directly with the electron, since this behavior happens more often when the neutrino beam is present. In this process, the neutrino simply strikes the electron and then scatters away from it, transferring some of the neutrino's momentum to the electron.

Because neutrinos are neither affected by the strong force nor the electromagnetic force, and because the gravitational force between subatomic particles is negligible, such an interaction can only happen via the weak force. Since such an electron is not created from a nucleon, and is unchanged except for the new force impulse imparted by the neutrino, this weak force interaction between the neutrino and the electron must be mediated by an electromagnetically neutral, weak-force boson particle. Thus, this interaction requires a Z boson.

Weak interaction

In particle physics, the weak interaction, which is also often called the weak force or weak nuclear force, is the mechanism of interaction between subatomic particles that is responsible for the radioactive decay of atoms. The weak interaction serves an essential role in nuclear fission, and the theory regarding it in terms of both its behavior and effects is sometimes called quantum flavordynamics (QFD). However, the term QFD is rarely used because the weak force is better understood in terms of electroweak theory (EWT). In addition to this, QFD is related to quantum chromodynamics (QCD), which deals with the strong interaction, and quantum electrodynamics (QED), which deals with the electromagnetic force.

The effective range of the weak force is limited to subatomic distances, and is less than the diameter of a proton. It is one of the four known force-related fundamental interactions of nature, alongside the strong interaction, electromagnetism, and gravitation.

W′ and Z′ bosons

In particle physics, W′ and Z′ bosons (or W-prime and Z-prime bosons) refer to hypothetical gauge bosons that arise from extensions of the electroweak symmetry of the Standard Model. They are named in analogy with the Standard Model W and Z bosons.

X and Y bosons

In particle physics, the X and Y bosons (sometimes collectively called "X bosons") are hypothetical elementary particles analogous to the W and Z bosons, but corresponding to a new type of force predicted by the Georgi–Glashow model, a grand unified theory.

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