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Do Gluons have frequencies and wavelengths? I assume that they do, but have been unable to find anything on point in SE or Wikipedia. Just beginning to study university-level physics here.

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3 Answers 3

up vote 7 down vote accepted

They do, just as all quantum objects do. They have momenta, and since they are massless, their frequency/wavelength/energy/momentum relations are the same as for photons.

But since you will never detect a free gluon, as they are color-charged and thus confined, this is not a sensible thing to say. Quantum objects are not waves (just as they are not classical particles), and if you cannot examine a free gluon, you cannot do something like the double-slit with it, and the "wavelength" you might want to associate with it is not really useful.

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I understand that they are quantum objects but I assumed that, like photons, they had frequencies. –  Tim Aug 9 at 16:45
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@Tim: You can even assiociate to massive objects like electrons or buckyballs or humans the de Broglie wavelength (and therefore, a frequency). Whether it is sensible to do so is questionable from case to case, and I think for gluons, it is not (while for photons, as they occur as free particles, it is). –  ACuriousMind Aug 9 at 16:51

Yes gluons exhibit particle duality. The gluon has no mass, and therefore travels at the speed of light when created and annihilated in their exchange within the nucleons.

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Hadrons contain only virtual gluons, which do not obey the ordinary relationships between energy and wavelength. High energy collisions are required to create real gluons - which do.

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Well... virtuality is an inexact art, but basically because gluons are confined, they have more "freedom" to be virtual than other particles. –  David Z Aug 11 at 21:56

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