Function of W+, W- and Z bosons?

1. Mar 14, 2010

FeDeX_LaTeX

Hello;

What are the functions of the W+, W- and Z0 bosons? They are responsible for radioactive beta decay, but what do each of these bosons do?

Thanks.

2. Mar 14, 2010

phyzguy

They are the force carriers of the weak interaction, just as the photon is the force carrier of the electromagnetic interaction. Because they are very massive, the weak interaction is a very short-range force, unlike the electromagnetic interaction, which is a long-range force because the photon is massless.

Last edited: Mar 14, 2010
3. Mar 17, 2010

FeDeX_LaTeX

Okay. So the W+, W- and Z0 are all attracted to each other, then? Like in an atom?

4. Mar 17, 2010

Agent M27

I checked it out on hyperphysics and it gave a Feynman diagram which depicted a down quark is traveling along it splits into an up quark and a +W which then decays into an electron and electron neutrino. The description said this is what happens during beta decay but I always thought beta decay was dealing with electrons and alpha decay dealing with nucleons. So what is beta decay? Also what exactly are these bosons transmitting? Is it just a means of describing how a particle will start at A and arrive at B as our observations have shown? Sorry to hijack your thread but I think this is pertinant to your original post.

Joe

5. Mar 18, 2010

FeDeX_LaTeX

Hi;

I would like to know too. :)

Where is the picture you were talking about?

6. Mar 18, 2010

Agent M27

Last edited by a moderator: Apr 24, 2017
7. Mar 18, 2010

phyzguy

At the quark level, beta decay is as you described it, with a d quark decaying into a u quark, an electron, and an electron anti-neutrino. Converting the d quark into a u quark converts the neutron that the d quark is part of into a proton. This causes the nucleus that the neutron is in to emit an electron (and it's associated neutrino) and increase in atomic number by 1. Note that even free neutrons decay via this path with a half life of about 10-15 minutes.