Strong interaction

In particle physics, the strong interaction is the mechanism responsible for the strong nuclear force (also called the strong force, nuclear strong force, or colour force), and is one of the four known fundamental interactions, with the others being electromagnetism, the weak interaction, and gravitation. At the range of 10−15 m (1 femtometer), the strong force is approximately 137 times as strong as electromagnetism, a million times as strong as the weak interaction, and 1038 times as strong as gravitation.[1] The strong nuclear force holds most ordinary matter together because it confines quarks into hadron particles such as the proton and neutron. In addition, the strong force binds neutrons and protons to create atomic nuclei. Most of the mass of a common proton or neutron is the result of the strong force field energy; the individual quarks provide only about 1% of the mass of a proton.

The strong interaction is observable at two ranges and mediated by two force carriers. On a larger scale (about 1 to 3 fm), it is the force (carried by mesons) that binds protons and neutrons (nucleons) together to form the nucleus of an atom. On the smaller scale (less than about 0.8 fm, the radius of a nucleon), it is the force (carried by gluons) that holds quarks together to form protons, neutrons, and other hadron particles.[2] In the latter context, it is often known as the color force. The strong force inherently has such a high strength that hadrons bound by the strong force can produce new massive particles. Thus, if hadrons are struck by high-energy particles, they give rise to new hadrons instead of emitting freely moving radiation (gluons). This property of the strong force is called color confinement, and it prevents the free "emission" of the strong force: instead, in practice, jets of massive particles are produced.

In the context of atomic nuclei, the same strong interaction force (that binds quarks within a nucleon) also binds protons and neutrons together to form a nucleus. In this capacity it is called the nuclear force (or residual strong force). So the residuum from the strong interaction within protons and neutrons also binds nuclei together.[3] As such, the residual strong interaction obeys a quite different distance-dependent behavior between nucleons, from when it is acting to bind quarks within nucleons. Differences in the binding energy of the nuclear force between different nuclei power nuclear fusion and nuclear fission. Nuclear fusion accounts for most energy production in the Sun and other stars. Nuclear fission allows for decay of radioactive elements and isotopes, although it is often mediated by the weak interaction. Artificially, the energy associated with the nuclear force is partially released in nuclear power and nuclear weapons, both in uranium or plutonium-based fission weapons and in fusion weapons like the hydrogen bomb.[4][5]

The strong interaction is mediated by the exchange of massless particles called gluons that act between quarks, antiquarks, and other gluons. Gluons are thought to interact with quarks and other gluons by way of a type of charge called color charge. Color charge is analogous to electromagnetic charge, but it comes in three types (±red, ±green, ±blue) rather than one, which results in a different type of force, with different rules of behavior. These rules are detailed in the theory of quantum chromodynamics (QCD), which is the theory of quark-gluon interactions.

Helium atom QM
The nucleus of a helium atom. The two protons have the same charge, but still stay together due to the residual nuclear force

History

Before the 1970s, physicists were uncertain as to how the atomic nucleus was bound together. It was known that the nucleus was composed of protons and neutrons and that protons possessed positive electric charge, while neutrons were electrically neutral. By the understanding of physics at that time, positive charges would repel one another and the positively charged protons should cause the nucleus to fly apart. However, this was never observed. New physics was needed to explain this phenomenon.

A stronger attractive force was postulated to explain how the atomic nucleus was bound despite the protons' mutual electromagnetic repulsion. This hypothesized force was called the strong force, which was believed to be a fundamental force that acted on the protons and neutrons that make up the nucleus.

It was later discovered that protons and neutrons were not fundamental particles, but were made up of constituent particles called quarks. The strong attraction between nucleons was the side-effect of a more fundamental force that bound the quarks together into protons and neutrons. The theory of quantum chromodynamics explains that quarks carry what is called a color charge, although it has no relation to visible color.[6] Quarks with unlike color charge attract one another as a result of the strong interaction, and the particle that mediated this was called the gluon.

Behavior of the strong force

Gluon coupling
The fundamental couplings of the strong interaction, from left to right: gluon radiation, gluon splitting and gluon self-coupling.

The word strong is used since the strong interaction is the "strongest" of the four fundamental forces. At a distance of 1 femtometer (1 fm = 10−15 meters) or less, its strength is around 137 times that of the electromagnetic force, some 106 times as great as that of the weak force, and about 1038 times that of gravitation.

The strong force is described by quantum chromodynamics (QCD), a part of the standard model of particle physics. Mathematically, QCD is a non-Abelian gauge theory based on a local (gauge) symmetry group called SU(3).

The force carrier particle of the strong interaction is the gluon, a massless boson. Unlike the photon in electromagnetism, which is neutral, the gluon carries a color charge. Quarks and gluons are the only fundamental particles that carry non-vanishing color charge, and hence they participate in strong interactions only with each other. The strong force is the expression of the gluon interaction with other quark and gluon particles.

All quarks and gluons in QCD interact with each other through the strong force. The strength of interaction is parametrized by the strong coupling constant. This strength is modified by the gauge color charge of the particle, a group theoretical property.

The strong force acts between quarks. Unlike all other forces (electromagnetic, weak, and gravitational), the strong force does not diminish in strength with increasing distance between pairs of quarks. After a limiting distance (about the size of a hadron) has been reached, it remains at a strength of about 10,000 newtons (N), no matter how much farther the distance between the quarks.[7] As the separation between the quarks grows, the energy added to the pair creates new pairs of matching quarks between the original two; hence it is impossible to create separate quarks. The explanation is that the amount of work done against a force of 10,000 newtons is enough to create particle-antiparticle pairs within a very short distance of that interaction. The very energy added to the system required to pull two quarks apart would create a pair of new quarks that will pair up with the original ones. In QCD, this phenomenon is called color confinement; as a result only hadrons, not individual free quarks, can be observed. The failure of all experiments that have searched for free quarks is considered to be evidence of this phenomenon.

The elementary quark and gluon particles involved in a high energy collision are not directly observable. The interaction produces jets of newly created hadrons that are observable. Those hadrons are created, as a manifestation of mass-energy equivalence, when sufficient energy is deposited into a quark-quark bond, as when a quark in one proton is struck by a very fast quark of another impacting proton during a particle accelerator experiment. However, quark–gluon plasmas have been observed.[8]

Residual strong force

It is not the case that every quark in the universe attracts every other quark in the above distance independent manner. Color confinement implies that the strong force acts without distance-diminishment only between pairs of quarks, and that in collections of bound quarks (hadrons), the net color-charge of the quarks essentially cancels out, resulting in a limit of the action of the forces. Collections of quarks (hadrons) therefore appear nearly without color-charge, and the strong force is therefore nearly absent between those hadrons except that the cancellation is not quite perfect. A residual force remains (described below) known as the residual strong force. This residual force does diminish rapidly with distance, and is thus very short-range (effectively a few femtometers). It manifests as a force between the "colorless" hadrons, and is sometimes known as the strong nuclear force or simply nuclear force.

Nuclear Force anim smaller
An animation of the nuclear force (or residual strong force) interaction between a proton and a neutron. The small colored double circles are gluons, which can be seen binding the proton and neutron together. These gluons also hold the quark/antiquark combination called the pion together, and thus help transmit a residual part of the strong force even between colorless hadrons. Anticolors are shown as per this diagram. For a larger version, click here

The residual effect of the strong force is called the nuclear force. The nuclear force acts between hadrons, known as mesons and baryons. This "residual strong force", acting indirectly, transmits gluons that form part of the virtual π and ρ mesons, which, in turn, transmit the force between nucleons that holds the nucleus (beyond protium) together.

The residual strong force is thus a minor residuum of the strong force that binds quarks together into protons and neutrons. This same force is much weaker between neutrons and protons, because it is mostly neutralized within them, in the same way that electromagnetic forces between neutral atoms (van der Waals forces) are much weaker than the electromagnetic forces that hold electrons in association with the nucleus, forming the atoms.[9]

Unlike the strong force itself, the residual strong force, does diminish in strength, and it in fact diminishes rapidly with distance. The decrease is approximately as a negative exponential power of distance, though there is no simple expression known for this; see Yukawa potential. The rapid decrease with distance of the attractive residual force and the less-rapid decrease of the repulsive electromagnetic force acting between protons within a nucleus, causes the instability of larger atomic nuclei, such as all those with atomic numbers larger than 82 (the element lead).

Although the nuclear force is weaker than strong interaction itself, it is still highly energetic: transitions produce gamma rays. The mass of nuclei is significantly different from the masses of the individual nucleons. This mass defect is due to the potential energy associated with the nuclear force. Differences between mass defects power nuclear fusion and nuclear fission.

Unification

The so-called Grand Unified Theories (GUT) aim to describe the strong interaction and the electroweak interaction as aspects of a single force, similarly to how the electromagnetic and weak interactions were unified by the Glashow-Weinberg-Salam model into the electroweak interaction. The strong interaction has a property called asymptotic freedom, wherein the strength of the strong force diminishes at higher energies (or temperatures). The theorized energy where its strength becomes equal to the electroweak interaction is the grand unification energy. However, no Grand Unified Theory has yet been successfully formulated to describe this process, and Grand Unification remains an unsolved problem in physics.

If GUT is correct, after the Big Bang and during the electroweak epoch of the universe, the electroweak force separated from the strong force. Accordingly, a grand unification epoch is hypothesized to have existed prior to this.

See also

References

  1. ^ Relative strength of interaction varies with distance. See for instance Matt Strassler's essay, "The strength of the known forces".
  2. ^ The four forces: the strong interaction Duke University Astrophysics Dept website
  3. ^ The four forces: the strong interaction Duke University Astrophysics Dept website
  4. ^ on Binding energy: see Binding Energy, Mass Defect, Furry Elephant physics educational site, retr 2012-07-01
  5. ^ on Binding energy: see Chapter 4 Nuclear Processes, The Strong Force, M. Ragheb 1/27/2012, University of Illinois
  6. ^ Feynman, R.P. (1985). QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter. Princeton University Press. p. 136. ISBN 978-0-691-08388-9. The idiot physicists, unable to come up with any wonderful Greek words anymore, call this type of polarization by the unfortunate name of 'color', which has nothing to do with color in the normal sense.
  7. ^ Fritzsch, op. cite, p. 164. The author states that the force between differently colored quarks remains constant at any distance after they travel only a tiny distance from each other, and is equal to that need to raise one ton, which is 1000 kg × 9.8 m/s² = ~10,000 N.
  8. ^ "Quark-gluon plasma is the most primordial state of matter". About.com Education. Archived from the original on 2017-01-18. Retrieved 2017-01-16.
  9. ^ Fritzsch, H. (1983). Quarks: The Stuff of Matter. Basic Books. pp. 167–168. ISBN 978-0-465-06781-7.

Further reading

  • Christman, J.R. (2001). "MISN-0-280: The Strong Interaction" (PDF). Project PHYSNET. External link in |website= (help)
  • Griffiths, David (1987). Introduction to Elementary Particles. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-0-471-60386-3.
  • Halzen, F.; Martin, A.D. (1984). Quarks and Leptons: An Introductory Course in Modern Particle Physics. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-0-471-88741-6.
  • Kane, G.L. (1987). Modern Elementary Particle Physics. Perseus Books. ISBN 978-0-201-11749-3.
  • Morris, R. (2003). The Last Sorcerers: The Path from Alchemy to the Periodic Table. Joseph Henry Press. ISBN 978-0-309-50593-2.

External links

Baryon

In particle physics, a baryon is a type of composite subatomic particle which contains an odd number of valence quarks (at least 3). Baryons belong to the hadron family of particles, which are the quark-based particles. They are also classified as fermions, i.e., they have half-integer spin.

The name "baryon", introduced by Abraham Pais, comes from the Greek word for "heavy" (βαρύς, barýs), because, at the time of their naming, most known elementary particles had lower masses than the baryons. Each baryon has a corresponding antiparticle (antibaryon) where their corresponding antiquarks replace quarks. For example, a proton is made of two up quarks and one down quark; and its corresponding antiparticle, the antiproton, is made of two up antiquarks and one down antiquark.

As quark-based particles, baryons participate in the strong interaction, which is mediated by particles known as gluons. The most familiar baryons are protons and neutrons, both of which contain three quarks, and for this reason these particles are sometimes described as triquarks. These particles make up most of the mass of the visible matter in the universe, as well as forming the components of the nucleus of every atom. Electrons (the other major component of the atom) are members of a different family of particles, known as leptons, which do not interact via the strong force. Exotic baryons containing five quarks (known as pentaquarks) have also been discovered and studied.

C-symmetry

Charge conjugation is a transformation that switches all particles with their corresponding antiparticles, and thus changes the sign of all charges: not only electric charge but also the charges relevant to other forces. In physics, C-symmetry means the symmetry of physical laws under a charge-conjugation transformation. Electromagnetism, gravity and the strong interaction all obey C-symmetry, but weak interactions violate C-symmetry.

Diquark

In particle physics, a diquark, or diquark correlation/clustering, is a hypothetical state of two quarks grouped inside a baryon (that consists of three quarks) (Lichtenberg 1982). Corresponding models of baryons are referred to as quark–diquark models. The diquark is often treated as a single subatomic particle with which the third quark interacts via the strong interaction. The existence of diquarks inside the nucleons is a disputed issue, but it helps to explain some nucleon properties and to reproduce experimental data sensitive to the nucleon structure. Diquark–antidiquark pairs have also been advanced for anomalous particles such as the X(3872).

Down quark

The down quark or d quark (symbol: d) is the second-lightest of all quarks, a type of elementary particle, and a major constituent of matter. Together with the up quark, it forms the neutrons (one up quark, two down quarks) and protons (two up quarks, one down quark) of atomic nuclei. It is part of the first generation of matter, has an electric charge of −1/3 e and a bare mass of 4.7+0.5−0.3 MeV/c2. Like all quarks, the down quark is an elementary fermion with spin 1/2, and experiences all four fundamental interactions: gravitation, electromagnetism, weak interactions, and strong interactions. The antiparticle of the down quark is the down antiquark (sometimes called antidown quark or simply antidown), which differs from it only in that some of its properties have equal magnitude but opposite sign.

Its existence (along with that of the up and strange quarks) was postulated in 1964 by Murray Gell-Mann and George Zweig to explain the Eightfold Way classification scheme of hadrons. The down quark was first observed by experiments at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center in 1968.

Eightfold way (physics)

In physics, the eightfold way is an organizional scheme for a class of subatomic particles known as hadrons that led to the development of the quark model. American physicist Murray Gell-Mann and Israeli physicist Yuval Ne'eman both proposed the idea in 1961. The name comes from Gell-Mann's 1961 paper and is an allusion to the Noble Eightfold Path of Buddhism.

Frank Wilczek

Frank Anthony Wilczek (; born May 15, 1951) is an American theoretical physicist, mathematician and a Nobel laureate. He is currently the Herman Feshbach Professor of Physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Founding Director of T. D. Lee Institute and Chief Scientist Wilczek Quantum Center, Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU), Distinguished Origins Professor at Arizona State University (ASU) and full Professor at Stockholm University.Wilczek, along with David Gross and H. David Politzer, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2004 for their discovery of asymptotic freedom in the theory of the strong interaction. He is on the Scientific Advisory Board for the Future of Life Institute.

Fundamental interaction

In physics, the fundamental interactions, also known as fundamental forces, are the interactions that do not appear to be reducible to more basic interactions. There are four fundamental interactions known to exist: the gravitational and electromagnetic interactions, which produce significant long-range forces whose effects can be seen directly in everyday life, and the strong and weak interactions, which produce forces at minuscule, subatomic distances and govern nuclear interactions. Some scientists hypothesize that a fifth force might exist, but the hypotheses remain speculative.

Each of the known fundamental interactions can be described mathematically as a field. The gravitational force is attributed to the curvature of spacetime, described by Einstein's general theory of relativity. The other three are discrete quantum fields, and their interactions are mediated by elementary particles described by the Standard Model of particle physics.

Within the Standard Model, the strong interaction is carried by a particle called the gluon, and is responsible for quarks binding together to form hadrons, such as protons and neutrons. As a residual effect, it creates the nuclear force that binds the latter particles to form atomic nuclei. The weak interaction is carried by particles called W and Z bosons, and also acts on the nucleus of atoms, mediating radioactive decay. The electromagnetic force, carried by the photon, creates electric and magnetic fields, which are responsible for the attraction between orbital electrons and atomic nuclei which holds atoms together, as well as chemical bonding and electromagnetic waves, including visible light, and forms the basis for electrical technology. Although the electromagnetic force is far stronger than gravity, it tends to cancel itself out within large objects, so over large distances (on the scale of planets and galaxies), gravity tends to be the dominant force.

All four fundamental forces are believed to be related, and to unite into a single force at high energies on a minuscule scale, the Planck scale, but particle accelerators cannot produce the enormous energies required to experimentally probe this. Efforts to devise a common theoretical framework that would explain the relation between the forces are perhaps the greatest goal of today's theoretical physicists. The weak and electromagnetic forces have already been unified with the electroweak theory of Sheldon Glashow, Abdus Salam, and Steven Weinberg for which they received the 1979 Nobel Prize in physics. Progress is currently being made in uniting the electroweak and strong fields within a Grand Unified Theory (GUT). A bigger challenge is to find a way to quantize the gravitational field, resulting in a theory of quantum gravity (QG) which would unite gravity in a common theoretical framework with the other three forces. Some theories, notably string theory, seek both QG and GUT within one framework, unifying all four fundamental interactions along with mass generation within a theory of everything (ToE).

Gluon

A gluon () is an elementary particle that acts as the exchange particle (or gauge boson) for the strong force between quarks. It is analogous to the exchange of photons in the electromagnetic force between two charged particles. In layman's terms, they "glue" quarks together, forming hadrons such as protons and neutrons.

In technical terms, gluons are vector gauge bosons that mediate strong interactions of quarks in quantum chromodynamics (QCD). Gluons themselves carry the color charge of the strong interaction. This is unlike the photon, which mediates the electromagnetic interaction but lacks an electric charge. Gluons therefore participate in the strong interaction in addition to mediating it, making QCD significantly harder to analyze than QED (quantum electrodynamics).

Grand unification epoch

In physical cosmology, assuming that nature is described by a Grand Unified Theory, the grand unification epoch was the period in the evolution of the early universe following the Planck epoch, starting at about 10−43 seconds after the Big Bang, in which the temperature of the universe was comparable to the characteristic temperatures of grand unified theories. If the grand unification energy is taken to be 1015 GeV, this corresponds to temperatures higher than 1027 K. During this period, three of the four fundamental interactions—electromagnetism, the strong interaction, and the weak interaction—were unified as the electronuclear force. Gravity had separated from the electronuclear force at the end of the Planck era. During the grand unification epoch, physical characteristics such as mass, charge, flavour and colour charge were meaningless.

The grand unification epoch ended at approximately 10−36 seconds after the Big Bang. At this point several key events took place. The strong force separated from the other fundamental forces.

It is possible that some part of this decay process violated the conservation of baryon number and gave rise to a small excess of matter over antimatter (see baryogenesis). This phase transition is also thought to have triggered the process of cosmic inflation that dominated the development of the universe during the following inflationary epoch.

List of baryons

Baryons are composite particles made of three quarks, as opposed to mesons, which are composite particles made of one quark and one antiquark. Baryons and mesons are both hadrons, which are particles composed solely of quarks or both quarks and antiquarks. The term baryon is derived from the Greek "βαρύς" (barys), meaning "heavy", because, at the time of their naming, it was believed that baryons were characterized by having greater masses than other particles that were classed as matter.

Until a few years ago, it was believed that some experiments showed the existence of pentaquarks – baryons made of four quarks and one antiquark. The particle physics community as a whole did not view their existence as likely by 2006. On 13 July 2015, the LHCb collaboration at CERN reported results consistent with pentaquark states in the decay of bottom Lambda baryons (Λ0b).Since baryons are composed of quarks, they participate in the strong interaction. Leptons, on the other hand, are not composed of quarks and as such do not participate in the strong interaction. The most famous baryons are the protons and neutrons that make up most of the mass of the visible matter in the universe, whereas electrons, the other major component of atoms, are leptons. Each baryon has a corresponding antiparticle known as an antibaryon in which quarks are replaced by their corresponding antiquarks. For example, a proton is made of two up quarks and one down quark, while its corresponding antiparticle, the antiproton, is made of two up antiquarks and one down antiquark.

Mirror nuclei

Mirror nuclei are nuclei where the number of protons of element one (Z1) equals the number of neutrons of element two (N2) and the number of protons of element two (Z2) equals the number of neutrons in element one (N1), such that the mass number is the same (A = N1 + Z1 = N2 + Z2).

As that Z1 = N2 and Z2 = N1, A = N1 + N2 = Z1 + Z2. By making the substitution Z1 = Z and Z2 = Z − 1, the mass number can be rewritten in the form 2Z - 1.

Examples of mirror nuclei:

3H and 3He: Jπ = 1/2+

14C and 14O: Jπ = 0+

15N and 15O: Jπ = 1/2−

24Na and 24Al: Jπ = 4+

24mNa and 24mAl: Jπ = 1+Pairs of mirror nuclei have the same spin and parity. If we constrain to odd number of nucleons (A=Z+N) then we find mirror nuclei that differ one another by exchanging a proton by a neutron. Interesting to observe is their binding energy which is mainly due to the strong interaction and also due to Coulomb interaction. Since the strong interaction is invariant to protons and neutrons one can expect these mirror nuclei to have very similar binding energies.

NGC 1268

NGC 1268 is a spiral galaxy located about 140 million light-years away in the constellation Perseus. It was discovered by astronomer Heinrich d'Arrest on February 14, 1863. NGC 1268 is a member of the Perseus Cluster and appears to show signs of distortion in the form of bridges. These features may be the result of a strong interaction with NGC 1267.

Nuclear force

The nuclear force (or nucleon–nucleon interaction or residual strong force) is a force that acts between the protons and neutrons of atoms. Neutrons and protons, both nucleons, are affected by the nuclear force almost identically. Since protons have charge +1 e, they experience an electric force that tends to push them apart, but at short range the attractive nuclear force is strong enough to overcome the electromagnetic force. The nuclear force binds nucleons into atomic nuclei.

The nuclear force is powerfully attractive between nucleons at distances of about 1 femtometre (fm, or 1.0 × 10−15 metres), but it rapidly decreases to insignificance at distances beyond about 2.5 fm. At distances less than 0.7 fm, the nuclear force becomes repulsive. This repulsive component is responsible for the physical size of nuclei, since the nucleons can come no closer than the force allows. By comparison, the size of an atom, measured in angstroms (Å, or 1.0 × 10−10 m), is five orders of magnitude larger. The nuclear force is not simple, however, since it depends on the nucleon spins, has a tensor component, and may depend on the relative momentum of the nucleons. The strong nuclear force is one of the fundamental forces of nature.

The nuclear force plays an essential role in storing energy that is used in nuclear power and nuclear weapons. Work (energy) is required to bring charged protons together against their electric repulsion. This energy is stored when the protons and neutrons are bound together by the nuclear force to form a nucleus. The mass of a nucleus is less than the sum total of the individual masses of the protons and neutrons. The difference in masses is known as the mass defect, which can be expressed as an energy equivalent. Energy is released when a heavy nucleus breaks apart into two or more lighter nuclei. This energy is the electromagnetic potential energy that is released when the nuclear force no longer holds the charged nuclear fragments together.A quantitative description of the nuclear force relies on equations that are partly empirical. These equations model the internucleon potential energies, or potentials. (Generally, forces within a system of particles can be more simply modeled by describing the system's potential energy; the negative gradient of a potential is equal to the vector force.) The constants for the equations are phenomenological, that is, determined by fitting the equations to experimental data. The internucleon potentials attempt to describe the properties of nucleon–nucleon interaction. Once determined, any given potential can be used in, e.g., the Schrödinger equation to determine the quantum mechanical properties of the nucleon system.

The discovery of the neutron in 1932 revealed that atomic nuclei were made of protons and neutrons, held together by an attractive force. By 1935 the nuclear force was conceived to be transmitted by particles called mesons. This theoretical development included a description of the Yukawa potential, an early example of a nuclear potential. Mesons, predicted by theory, were discovered experimentally in 1947. By the 1970s, the quark model had been developed, by which the mesons and nucleons were viewed as composed of quarks and gluons. By this new model, the nuclear force, resulting from the exchange of mesons between neighboring nucleons, is a residual effect of the strong force.

Nucleon

In chemistry and physics, a nucleon is either a proton or a neutron, considered in its role as a component of an atomic nucleus. The number of nucleons in a nucleus defines an isotope's mass number (nucleon number).

Until the 1960s, nucleons were thought to be elementary particles, not made up of smaller parts. Now they are known to be composite particles, made of three quarks bound together by the so-called strong interaction. The interaction between two or more nucleons is called internucleon interaction or nuclear force, which is also ultimately caused by the strong interaction. (Before the discovery of quarks, the term "strong interaction" referred to just internucleon interactions.)

Nucleons sit at the boundary where particle physics and nuclear physics overlap. Particle physics, particularly quantum chromodynamics, provides the fundamental equations that explain the properties of quarks and of the strong interaction. These equations explain quantitatively how quarks can bind together into protons and neutrons (and all the other hadrons). However, when multiple nucleons are assembled into an atomic nucleus (nuclide), these fundamental equations become too difficult to solve directly (see lattice QCD). Instead, nuclides are studied within nuclear physics, which studies nucleons and their interactions by approximations and models, such as the nuclear shell model. These models can successfully explain nuclide properties, as for example, whether or not a particular nuclide undergoes radioactive decay.

The proton and neutron are both fermions, hadrons and baryons. The proton carries a positive net charge and the neutron carries a zero net charge; the proton's mass is only about 0.13% less than the neutron's. Thus, they can be viewed as two states of the same nucleon, and together form an isospin doublet (I = ​1⁄2). In isospin space, neutrons can be transformed into protons via SU(2) symmetries, and vice versa. These nucleons are acted upon equally by the strong interaction, which is invariant under rotation in isospin space. According to the Noether theorem, isospin is conserved with respect to the strong interaction.

Quark

A quark () is a type of elementary particle and a fundamental constituent of matter. Quarks combine to form composite particles called hadrons, the most stable of which are protons and neutrons, the components of atomic nuclei. Due to a phenomenon known as color confinement, quarks are never directly observed or found in isolation; they can be found only within hadrons, which include baryons (such as protons and neutrons) and mesons. For this reason, much of what is known about quarks has been drawn from observations of hadrons.

Quarks have various intrinsic properties, including electric charge, mass, color charge, and spin. They are the only elementary particles in the Standard Model of particle physics to experience all four fundamental interactions, also known as fundamental forces (electromagnetism, gravitation, strong interaction, and weak interaction), as well as the only known particles whose electric charges are not integer multiples of the elementary charge.

There are six types, known as flavors, of quarks: up, down, strange, charm, bottom, and top. Up and down quarks have the lowest masses of all quarks. The heavier quarks rapidly change into up and down quarks through a process of particle decay: the transformation from a higher mass state to a lower mass state. Because of this, up and down quarks are generally stable and the most common in the universe, whereas strange, charm, bottom, and top quarks can only be produced in high energy collisions (such as those involving cosmic rays and in particle accelerators). For every quark flavor there is a corresponding type of antiparticle, known as an antiquark, that differs from the quark only in that some of its properties (such as the electric charge) have equal magnitude but opposite sign.

The quark model was independently proposed by physicists Murray Gell-Mann and George Zweig in 1964. Quarks were introduced as parts of an ordering scheme for hadrons, and there was little evidence for their physical existence until deep inelastic scattering experiments at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center in 1968. Accelerator experiments have provided evidence for all six flavors. The top quark, first observed at Fermilab in 1995, was the last to be discovered.

Quark epoch

In physical cosmology the Quark epoch was the period in the evolution of the early universe when the fundamental interactions of gravitation, electromagnetism, the strong interaction and the weak interaction had taken their present forms, but the temperature of the universe was still too high to allow quarks to bind together to form hadrons. The quark epoch began approximately 10−12 seconds after the Big Bang, when the preceding electroweak epoch ended as the electroweak interaction separated into the weak interaction and electromagnetism. During the quark epoch the universe was filled with a dense, hot quark–gluon plasma, containing quarks, leptons and their antiparticles. Collisions between particles were too energetic to allow quarks to combine into mesons or baryons. The quark epoch ended when the universe was about 10−6 seconds old, when the average energy of particle interactions had fallen below the binding energy of hadrons. The following period, when quarks became confined within hadrons, is known as the hadron epoch.

Strange quark

The strange quark or s quark (from its symbol, s) is the third lightest of all quarks, a type of elementary particle. Strange quarks are found in subatomic particles called hadrons. Example of hadrons containing strange quarks include kaons (K), strange D mesons (Ds), Sigma baryons (Σ), and other strange particles.

According to the IUPAP the symbol s is the official name, while strange is to be considered only as a mnemonic. The name sideways has also been used because the s quark has a I3 value of 0 while the u (“up”) and d (“down”) quarks have values of +1/2 and −1/2 respectively.Along with the charm quark, it is part of the second generation of matter, and has an electric charge of −1/3 e and a bare mass of 95+9−3 MeV/c2. Like all quarks, the strange quark is an elementary fermion with spin 1/2, and experiences all four fundamental interactions: gravitation, electromagnetism, weak interactions, and strong interactions. The antiparticle of the strange quark is the strange antiquark (sometimes called antistrange quark or simply antistrange), which differs from it only in that some of its properties have equal magnitude but opposite sign.

The first strange particle (a particle containing a strange quark) was discovered in 1947 (kaons), but the existence of the strange quark itself (and that of the up and down quarks) was only postulated in 1964 by Murray Gell-Mann and George Zweig to explain the Eightfold Way classification scheme of hadrons. The first evidence for the existence of quarks came in 1968, in deep inelastic scattering experiments at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center. These experiments confirmed the existence of up and down quarks, and by extension, strange quarks, as they were required to explain the Eightfold Way.

Up quark

The up quark or u quark (symbol: u) is the lightest of all quarks, a type of elementary particle, and a major constituent of matter. It, along with the down quark, forms the neutrons (one up quark, two down quarks) and protons (two up quarks, one down quark) of atomic nuclei. It is part of the first generation of matter, has an electric charge of +2/3 e and a bare mass of 2.2+0.5−0.4 MeV/c2.. Like all quarks, the up quark is an elementary fermion with spin 1/2, and experiences all four fundamental interactions: gravitation, electromagnetism, weak interactions, and strong interactions. The antiparticle of the up quark is the up antiquark (sometimes called antiup quark or simply antiup), which differs from it only in that some of its properties, such as charge have equal magnitude but opposite sign.

Its existence (along with that of the down and strange quarks) was postulated in 1964 by Murray Gell-Mann and George Zweig to explain the Eightfold Way classification scheme of hadrons. The up quark was first observed by experiments at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center in 1968.

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.

Physical forces
Radiations
Hypothetical forces
Background
Constituents
Beyond the
Standard Model
Experiments

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