# In Rayleigh scattering, does a light wave cause the electrons (themselves), in a particle, to move at the same frequency as the incoming light?

The excerpt below, about Rayleigh scattering, is taken from the following page: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rayleigh_scattering

Rayleigh scattering results from the electric polarizability of the particles. The oscillating electric field of a light wave acts on the charges within a particle, causing them to move at the same frequency. The particle therefore becomes a small radiating dipole whose radiation we see as scattered light.

Is Wikipedia trying to say that the light wave is causing the electrons, themselves, to move at the same frequency as the incoming light (i.e. visible light)? If so, how can this be? From my understanding, an electron, when in its orbital, doesn't vibrate in a classical manner, and it's not even known where the electron is when in an orbital.

If Wikipedia is not referring to the electrons in their orbitals, then what might they be referencing?

• no it doesn't move at exactly the same frequency.. you can model the electron as a forced damped (or undamped) harmonic oscillator to get an idea of the frequency of oscillation (as well as the amplitude).... Commented Feb 22, 2016 at 14:46
• @BruceLee No, it does oscillate at exactly the same frequency. Same goes for the damped harmonic oscillator that you use as a model. Commented Feb 22, 2016 at 14:52
• @BruceLee Yes, it does. Using your model system, it moves at the same frequency because it is a linear and driven oscillator. Commented Feb 22, 2016 at 14:52
• @garyp but the frequency should be changed if the system is damped... Commented Feb 22, 2016 at 14:55
• @BruceLee No. The resonant frequency changes, but not the frequency of oscillation when driven. It oscillates at the driving frequency. Commented Feb 22, 2016 at 14:57