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How many particles

  1. Apr 6, 2012 #1
    I was reading about this experiment and collision and I wondered....is a proton really made up of this many sub particles? According to the caption this picture represents the result of colliding two protons together. So am I looking at the sub-proton particles of both of these protons.

    Is there really that many? All stuffed into two protons? Can any of these be further divided? Do any of them exist independently outside of the proton so that two of THEM can be collided together to see what comes out?


  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 6, 2012 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    No. The outgoing particles are created in the collision, out of the combined energy of the incoming protons.
  4. Apr 6, 2012 #3
    Protons are made of three particles, a red quark, a blue quark, and a green quark. Remember, particle accelerators fire beams of protons, not just one at a time, producing a large amount of particles, not just from the protons.

    Also, these cannot be further subdivided, they are elementary particles. They don't actually look like 3-dimensional balls, they are point particles.

    EDIT: Ah, jtbell beat me to it.
  5. Apr 6, 2012 #4


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    Staff: Mentor

    That is a bad model for high-energetic collisions.

    It is better to look at Protons as a sum of many particles, usually called partons - 3 valence quarks, and in addition sea quarks (like virtual quark/antiquark pairs) and gluons.
    While the valence quarks usually have a large energy, you have many gluons and sea quarks with low energy. This is described via so-called structure functions.

    If you look at the LHC, for example, the usual process for generating some particles is the collision of gluons.

    >> Do any of them exist independently outside of the proton
    They can exist in hadrons (like the proton) only, you cannot have individual gluons or individual quarks.
  6. Apr 6, 2012 #5
    Thanks, my knowledge of particle physics is rather lacking, this had originally been posted quantum physics, which is why I had answered.
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