Kwork - Interacting Quarks

Interacting Quarks

See also: Color confinement and Gluon

As described by quantum chromodynamics, the strong interaction between quarks is mediated by gluons, massless vector gauge bosons. Each gluon carries one color charge and one anticolor charge. In the standard framework of particle interactions (part of a more general formulation known as perturbation theory), gluons are constantly exchanged between quarks through a virtual emission and absorption process. When a gluon is transferred between quarks, a color change occurs in both; for example, if a red quark emits a red–antigreen gluon, it becomes green, and if a green quark absorbs a red–antigreen gluon, it becomes red. Therefore, while each quark's color constantly changes, their strong interaction is preserved.

Since gluons carry color charge, they themselves are able to emit and absorb other gluons. This causes asymptotic freedom: as quarks come closer to each other, the chromodynamic binding force between them weakens. Conversely, as the distance between quarks increases, the binding force strengthens. The color field becomes stressed, much as an elastic band is stressed when stretched, and more gluons of appropriate color are spontaneously created to strengthen the field. Above a certain energy threshold, pairs of quarks and antiquarks are created. These pairs bind with the quarks being separated, causing new hadrons to form. This phenomenon is known as color confinement: quarks never appear in isolation. This process of hadronization occurs before quarks, formed in a high energy collision, are able to interact in any other way. The only exception is the top quark, which may decay before it hadronizes.

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