1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Maximum photon energy

  1. Apr 24, 2012 #1
    Is there a limit on how much energy a single photon can carry? What is the most ever observed (detected(measured))?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 24, 2012 #2
    I can't imagine there being an upper limit to the energy, In fact I'm positive. As for the highest energy photon ever observed, I know a cosmic ray was once detected that had the energy of a baseball traveling at 100 mph (which is insane, btw), but I can't remember if that was a photon or not, I'll edit this if I can find my source.
  4. Apr 24, 2012 #3


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    Cosmic rays are charged particles. The 'baseball' example I believe was a proton.
    Gamma rays are any photon above a certain energy.
    Any we see from space would generally have been rather more energetic at source.
  5. Apr 25, 2012 #4
  6. Apr 25, 2012 #5
    I know there was a proton detected once that had the energy of a baseball moving at 55mph i believe but protons have mass you can accelerate them indefinitely and you'd be increasing the energy of it (you can't do that to a photon). My question really involves much higher energies, like a photon carrying the energy of a large asteroid for example (way way above the gamma ray energies). What would cause a photon to have such a crazy energy? Would blue shifting it work?
  7. Apr 25, 2012 #6
    Not feasibly, something like that (energy of an asteroid) isn't physically realistic, and of we are talking purely theoretically I know there are limits on the amount of energy you can force into a single point, but I don't know the details enough to expand on that.
  8. Apr 25, 2012 #7
    I thought there was no limit on how much energy you can have in a single point, didn't the universe start from a singularity, aren't black holes singularities too?
  9. Apr 25, 2012 #8
    Disregard my latter comment, I was following up on an article I read but upon further research I discovered they sort of hand-wavingly said what they said without telling the reader that they skipped over important details. There is no upper limit to photon energy.
  10. May 19, 2012 #9
    Good time to all :)
    I'm not a physicist, I am a chemical engineer but I like to complicate my life. I have a natural facility to find correlations between things but sometimes takes me long.
    I hope someone can help me with the following questions:
    We all know that we get from the sun huge amounts of energy.
    1. Why built solar panels to capture and use a small fraction of the energy from the sun?
    As far as my knowledge reach, the solar panels only work with photons.
    2. Why not make panels that can collect and use all the solar wind?
    3. Is possible to collect all the radiation that comes from the sun in a disorderly way and rectify (as is done with laser light) all the energy for our everyday use?
    I know that getting energy from nowhere is not possible because this violates the second law. But, it is possible to collect the energy from the high energy oval belt that circles the Earth at 8 cicles / second.
    4. Why no one have been manufactured these energy collectors?

    Thanks, Ivan Castilla
  11. May 19, 2012 #10

    1) Because thats all our current technology can do right now. If you think about it, the sun radiates in every wavelength, and a 100% efficient solar panel would have to be able to convert photons of an arbitrary wavelength into electricity, which our panels cannot do. So we focus on specific areas of light and expand from there, theoretically I see no reason for not being able to have a 100% solar panel, but we haven't gotten there yet.

    2) I don't really have an answer to the question, but off the top of my head I can't think of a way to easily harness the energy contained in other radiative particles.

    3) Not quite sure what you mean.

    4) Because our technology hasn't gotten to a point yet where we can either build or simply design the required technology.
  12. May 20, 2012 #11
    Ok.... technology is not ready in all cases, thank you.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook