How And Why Are Elementary Particles Formed

2021-01-28   |   by CusiGO

Science can explain how they came into being, but not why. We don’t know if there is a reason for their formation, but if so, science can’t explain it. What science can tell us is what is the physical mechanism leading to the formation of elementary particles. It all started with the big bang 14 billion years ago. When the big bang occurs, there is a lot of energy in the form of radiation, and the basic particles are formed from this initial energy.

We know that in the first few seconds, the universe was very hot, the temperature exceeded billions of degrees, so small that the whole universe could hold one atom, and the density was very large. From the radiation itself and Einstein’s formula (E = m x C 2), we know that matter can be produced. Then, from all this radiation, equal amounts of particles and antiparticles are produced. Elementary particles are the basic components of matter, that is, those components that can no longer be split, as far as we know, they lack internal structure. An antiparticle is the same as a particle, but when it has an electric charge, it is the opposite. All elementary particles have an associated antiparticle, although some of them, such as photons, are antiparticles of their own.

The early universe was like a mixture of these elementary particles. We call it primitive soup. These particles have high energy, move at great speed, collide with each other, produce more particles and more radiation, and then almost all the basic particles are formed.

After that event, some elementary particles were artificially produced in particle accelerators. These devices use electromagnetic fields to make particles collide with each other at extremely high speed, thus producing new particles. After the big bang, other basic particles are also produced in natural processes, such as radioactive decay or particle collisions, such as atmospheric neutrinos. But compared with all the matter in the universe, this is a very small proportion, so you can say that all the matter we have in the universe today comes from this primitive soup.

Once the universe begins to expand and cool, these elementary particles combine between them to form protons and neutrons. Later, the nuclei of helium and deuterium, a hydrogen isotope composed of protons and neutrons, were formed. Once the elementary particles exist, everything else begins to form, which leads to the emergence of matter as we know it. From 300 seconds after the big bang to 1000 years later, we call it the era of primitive nucleosynthesis. All the helium and hydrogen that exist in the universe, as well as other light nuclei, were formed at that time, because since then the temperature in the universe is no longer high enough to continue to produce. Four neutrons in stars are produced by light fusion, while hypergravity neutrons, except for iron, originate in supernovae.

Mariam totola is a professor at the school of physics at the University of Valencia and a researcher at the Institute of corpus physics at the joint center of CSIC and the University of Valencia.

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