Particle Zoo

The Standard Model

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The Photon

Symbol: γ
Group: boson, gauge boson
Rest mass: 0
Charge: 0
Mean lifetime: stable
Spin: 1
The photon is the particle, or quantum, which carries the electromagnetic force. It is wave and particle at the same time and always moves with the speed of light. Therefore it has a mass (would it become slower, it wouldn't have mass any more), which matches to its energy (after E=mc²) and corresponds to its wavelength. It can be turned into a particle with rest mass and can evolve from those. The wavelength of photons extends from radio waves over microwaves, infrared, visible light, ultraviolet light, X-rays up to gamma rays, whereas the energy of the particles in this order increases enormously. There is a smallest possible amount of each wavelength that can be emitted, the quantum. A consequence of this are the laws of quantum-mechanics. Photons are mainly emitted by transitions of electrons in atoms and cause such transitions, if they hit atoms. Baryonic matter always emits photons, but has to be quite hot to emit visible light. Photons can spread out in space, so the electromagnetic force works over long distances, it decreases with the square of the distance.



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