What happens when a proton and an electron collide?

In summary: Err.. another point.. When a proton and electron accelerate towards each other, and when quantum...errr sorry, when they're close enough their speeds will be in equilibrium and they will stay in that state as long as they stay close together.
  • #1
Ott Rovgeisha
76
5
I know this question sounds... find a word for it you like... But please bear with me.

A proton. An electron. Not very high speeds...Vacuum..

A proton has an electric field, so does an electron...
They arrive into each others' fields and start to accelerate towards each other...

What happens next? What is bound to be happened? What might one expect?
May they collide if so. what would happen?
 
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  • #2
Ott Rovgeisha said:
They arrive into each others' fields and start to accelerate towards each other...
Electric fields extend to infinity, so they don't "enter each others' fields."

Ott Rovgeisha said:
What happens next? What is bound to be happened? What might one expect?
The process can take different forms, and things may happen in various order, but basically the system proton+electron will gradually lose energy through the emission of photons, and you will eventually end up with a hydrogen atom.

Ott Rovgeisha said:
May they collide if so. what would happen?
What exactly do you mean by collide? Because the above process is a collision of sorts.
 
  • #3
Hydrogen atom
 
  • #4
DrClaude said:
Electric fields extend to infinity, so they don't "enter each others' fields."
.

[Text deleted by moderator]

Collision is an interaction that takes a small amount of time and involves relatively large forces.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #5
Ott Rovgeisha said:
Collision is an interaction that takes a small amount of time and involves relatively large forces.

I'm not sure where you would draw the line between what could and couldn't called a collision. Does one 'collide' with a trampoline or a sponge, in your terms?
To answer the question involves Quantum Mechanics because both particles are very much quantum objects. The energy states, in close, are definite and well separated. There is a minimum possible energy state (the ground state) as the electron gets further and further away, the spacing between the energy states gets less and less until you can regard it as a continuum. The Inverse Potential Law applies ('Potential Well' with decreasing slope as you go further out). The slope is never actually zero. In practice, even in deeeeep space, there will be some other particles around to disturb this idealised, circularly symmetrical pattern and providing other attractive wells to pull against the two particles.
If their relative speed is high enough, so that the KE is greater than the Potential energy, there will never be capture. (As with asteroids and comets, in the classical world.)
 
  • #6
sophiecentaur said:
I'm not sure where you would draw the line between what could and couldn't called a collision. Does one 'collide' with a trampoline or a sponge, in your terms?
To answer the question involves Quantum Mechanics because both particles are very much quantum objects. The energy states, in close, are definite and well separated. There is a minimum possible energy state (the ground state) as the electron gets further and further away, the spacing between the energy states gets less and less until you can regard it as a continuum. The Inverse Potential Law applies ('Potential Well' with decreasing slope as you go further out). The slope is never actually zero. In practice, even in deeeeep space, there will be some other particles around to disturb this idealised, circularly symmetrical pattern and providing other attractive wells to pull against the two particles.
If their relative speed is high enough, so that the KE is greater than the Potential energy, there will never be capture. (As with asteroids and comets, in the classical world.)
Interesting answer, thank you: the further away, the less energy levels differ that one can regard it as a continuum is an interesting point.
 
  • #7
Ott Rovgeisha said:
Interesting answer, thank you: the further away, the less energy levels differ that one can regard it as a continuum is an interesting point.
That's very basic QM when you first do the Hydrogen Atom, with only four quantum numbers involved, as I remember.
 
  • #8
sophiecentaur said:
I'm not sure where you would draw the line between what could and couldn't called a collision. Does one 'collide' with a trampoline or a sponge, in your terms?
To answer the question involves Quantum Mechanics because both particles are very much quantum objects. The energy states, in close, are definite and well separated. There is a minimum possible energy state (the ground state) as the electron gets further and further away, the spacing between the energy states gets less and less until you can regard it as a continuum. The Inverse Potential Law applies ('Potential Well' with decreasing slope as you go further out). The slope is never actually zero. In practice, even in deeeeep space, there will be some other particles around to disturb this idealised, circularly symmetrical pattern and providing other attractive wells to pull against the two particles.
If their relative speed is high enough, so that the KE is greater than the Potential energy, there will never be capture. (As with asteroids and comets, in the classical world.)
Err.. another point.. When a proton and electron accelerate towards each other, and when quantum weirdness takes over.. So where does the energy go that they had?
 
  • #9
Ott Rovgeisha said:
Err.. another point.. When a proton and electron accelerate towards each other, and when quantum weirdness takes over.. So where does the energy go that they had?
Photon emission?
 
  • #10
In the case of a radiative recombination, the energy goes into an emitted photon. But you can also have three body recombination if three particles collide together.
 

1. What is the difference between a proton and an electron?

A proton is a positively charged subatomic particle found in the nucleus of an atom, while an electron is a negatively charged subatomic particle found orbiting the nucleus. They differ in mass, with a proton having a mass of approximately 1 atomic mass unit (amu) and an electron having a mass of approximately 0.0005 amu.

2. How do protons and electrons interact with each other?

Protons and electrons interact through electromagnetic forces. The positively charged protons attract the negatively charged electrons, keeping them in orbit around the nucleus. This results in the formation of stable atoms, which make up all matter in the universe.

3. Can protons and electrons be found outside of atoms?

Protons and electrons can exist outside of atoms, but only under certain conditions. Protons can be found in the form of free protons in plasma, which is a state of matter where atoms are stripped of their electrons. Electrons can also exist as free electrons in plasma or as part of an electron beam in particle accelerators.

4. How are protons and electrons discovered and studied?

Protons and electrons were first discovered and studied through experiments involving cathode ray tubes and electrical discharge tubes in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. These experiments led to the discovery of the electron and the understanding of its properties. Protons were discovered through experiments involving the disintegration of nuclei in the early 20th century.

5. What are the roles of protons and electrons in chemistry and biology?

In chemistry, protons and electrons play a crucial role in determining the properties of elements and how they interact with each other in chemical reactions. In biology, protons and electrons are essential for the functioning of cells and the production of energy through processes such as photosynthesis and cellular respiration.

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