Proton falling into a Black hole?

  1. I don't know if this is the right place to post this but would a proton falling into a black hole experience tidal forces. If the proton is like a wave could we stretch the wave out, that is probably really bad wording. Or does the quantum of energy move all together?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. bcrowell

    bcrowell 5,936
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    A proton is a composite object with quarks inside, and the proton has a size, about 1 fm=10^-15 m, which is essentially the typical distance between the quarks. In the frame of an observer hovering just outside the event horizon, the proton falls past at a velocity close to c, so that the de Broglie wavelength corresponding to its center-of-mass momentum is very short -- much shorter than the size of the proton itself. In a frame comoving with the proton, its de Broglie wavelength is infinite. Because a proton has a finite size, it would certainly experience tidal forces that would tend to distort its shape, i.e., cause the correlations among the quarks to change, probably giving it an ellipsoidal shape. However, tidal forces have less effect on smaller objects, and a proton is very small, so I think for any astrophysical black hole the effect would be much too small to measure.
     
  4. WannabeNewton

    WannabeNewton 5,848
    Science Advisor

    How would you quantify this tidal force in the framework of classical GR if at all since the equation of geodesic deviation is proportional to the four - velocity which is undefined for a photon?

    EDIT: yeah...nevermind
     
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2011
  5. PAllen

    PAllen 5,734
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Are you confusing proton and photon? The thread is about proton.
     
  6. WannabeNewton

    WannabeNewton 5,848
    Science Advisor

    Wow thats embarrassing. I read it as photon. Thats what happens when I don't drink coffee.
     
  7. No but it would be interesting to consider tidal forces on a photon.
    @ bcrowell, How can you tell me a proton has a finite size if its wave.
    If we can I would like to discuss how the tidal forces would effect the photon.
     
  8. bcrowell

    bcrowell 5,936
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Mm...what's your level of background in quantum mechanics?
     
  9. I have self taught myself a little bit about QM out of Griffiths . I know what a momentum operator is, Quantum harmonic oscillator . Spin matrices . But still a very elementary understanding of it. But I know a little bit.
     
  10. bcrowell

    bcrowell 5,936
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    OK, that's plenty. The idea is that if you want to describe an n-body system in one dimension, you need n coordinates. Those coordinates don't have to be just the x coordinates of each particle. For example, if your system consists of three quarks, A, B, and C, then you might want to take one coordinate to be the position X of the center of mass, one to be xA, and the third to be xB. The advantage is that the behavior of X is fixed trivially by conservation of momentum, so that simplifies the problem. The wavefunction in terms of X is simply a sine wave. The momentum P associated with X is the momentum associated with the center of mass motion.

    So for example if you ask why an elephant doesn't have observable wave properties, the answer is that P is on the order of 103 in SI units, so the wavelength is on the order of 10-33 meters. The wavelength is a gazillion times smaller than the elephant itself.
     
  11. ok , thanks for explaining that .
     
  12. bcrowell

    bcrowell 5,936
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I thought a little more about the photon version, and I don't think it makes sense to analyze that one in terms of tidal stresses. It's not a bound system that can have internal stresses. And whereas in the case of the proton there is a natural frame of reference in which to measure its elongation (the comoving frame), there is no comoving frame in the case of the photon.

    I think this is similar to a contrast that comes up in the case of cosmological redshifts. Photon wave-trains lengthen over cosmological time, and this can be interpreted in terms of the expansion of space itself as they travel through it. But protons, solar systems, etc., do not undergo any significant cosmological expansion.
     
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2011
Know someone interested in this topic? Share a link to this question via email, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?