|PHY304||Particle Physics||Dr C N Booth|
The strong interaction binds the constituents of nucleons and other hadrons. Its properties can be summarised as follows:
It acts only on quarks.
It is strong, overcoming the Coulomb repulsion in the nucleus
It binds quarks in only two configurations(*):
i.e. 3 identical fermions in the same state - same wave function, same quantum numbers.
This violates the Pauli exclusion principle!
The explanation of this is that the quarks also carry an additional quantum number, which is different for all three quarks in a baryon. This quantum number also corresponds to the source or "charge" of the strong interaction. The fact that the sum of three equivalent but different "strong charges" are required to produce a neutral state has led to this charge being known as colour, in analogy with the addition of three primary colours, red, green and blue, making white light. Each quark is labelled as red, green or blue, while antiquarks carry the equivalent "anticolours". All hadrons, whether qqq or q, are therefore seen to be colour-neutral states.
The strong interaction is a gauge interaction mediated by a massless, spin 1 gluon, g, which is electrically neutral but carries a composite colour such as red-. The coupling constant is known as as αs (alpha-strong) and the theory is known as Quantum Chromodynamics or QCD in analogy with QED. Note that, unlike in QED, the exchange quantum is also a source, so processes such as the branching of one gluon into two can occur. (The theory is said to be non-Abelian.)
The final point to note about the strong interaction is its strength!
At small momentum transfer (or large distance)
(The strong interaction is sometimes described as being a short-range force. Being mediated by massless bosons, the strong force between quarks in not short-ranged. However, the strong force between hadrons which are colourless overall - e.g. the force between nucleons in the nucleus - does appear to be short ranged, in exactly the same way that the electromagnetic force between electrically neutral molecules in a crystal appears short ranged.)
Supplementary material on the strong interaction, mainly of a popular or non-technical nature, can be obtained from a number of sources. You may wish to consult some of the following information on the Web:
Supplementary Reading Material
For further non-technical discussion of strong interactions, you might like to consult The Ideas of Particle Physics, as follows:
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