an elementary particle that mediates, or carries, the strong, or nuclear, force. In quantum chromodynamics (QCD), the quantum field theory of strong interactions, the interaction of quarks (to form protons, neutrons, and other elementary particles) is described in terms of gluons—so called because they “glue” the quarks together. Gluons are massless, travel at the speed of light, and possess a property called color. Analogous to electric charge in charged particles, color is of three varieties, arbitrarily designated as red, blue, and yellow, and—analogous to positive and negative charges—three anticolor varieties. Quarks change their color as they emit and absorb gluons, and the exchange of gluons maintains proper quark color balance.
Unlike other forces, the force between quarks increases as the distance between the quarks increases. Up to distances about the diameter of a proton, quarks behave as if they were free of one another, a condition called asymptotic freedom. As the quarks move farther apart, the gluons that move between them utilize the energy that they draw from the quark's motion to create more gluons—the larger the number of gluons exchanged among quarks, the stronger the binding force. The gluons thus appear to lock the quarks inside the elementary particles, a condition called confinement. Gluons can also bind with one another to form composite particles called glueballs.
According to QCD, only colorless objects may exist in isolation. Therefore, individual gluons and individual quarks cannot exist in nature, and only indirect evidence of their existence can be detected. In 1979, compelling evidence was found when quarks were shown to emit gluons during studies of particle collisions at the German national high-energy physics laboratory in Hamburg.
actions between elementary particles mediated, or carried, by gluons. They are responsible for the binding of protons and neutrons in the nucleus an
In physics, a theory describing the interactions of quarks, the elementary particles that make up all hadrons (subatomic particles such as protons an
In physics, the elementary particle that is the fundamental constituent of all hadrons (subatomic particles that experience the strong nuclear force;