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I apologise in advance, this is something I just can't seem to get my head around. So it's my understanding that before the electroweak force split, there were four bosons - $W1$, $W2$, $W3$ and $B$ - and that they mix or interact to form photons $\gamma$, $W+/W-$ and $Z$ bosons. So, in our current universe with the split weak nuclear and electromagnetic forces, what happens to W1, W2, W3 and B? If photons are mixes of W3 and B, does that mean the W3 and B bosons are created for an instant and then mix to form a photon in the heart of a star? Or can photons be made without W3 and B?

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  • $\begingroup$ It's really just a change of variables. The "SU(2)xU(1) field" (like Maxwell's electromagnetic field, but with more components) has four components, all of them massless before symmetry breaking. Gamma and Z are just a change of variables from W3 and B, but it matters because after symmetry breaking, "Gamma" is the only part that is still massless (since it is the only part that doesn't interact with the Higgs field). $\endgroup$ – Mitchell Porter Oct 12 '18 at 5:47
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I had the same question about a month ago when i tried to interprete the mathematics of electroweak SSB(sponteneous symmetry breaking). I investigated the obvious resolutions: either [1]maths is givining wrong interpretations or [2]It is giving correct interpretations.

Since Standard Model of EW interaction is so profound, I assumed [2] is coorrect.

So, what is the interpretation then if we analyze the math?

Consider this (understand in terms of fields, which are more fundamental than particles):

[a]Before SSB, above electroweak unification energy($E_{ew}$), we had 4 fields.

[b]At $E_{ew}$, these 4 fields starts interacting with each other and mixes in different combinations.

[c]After SSB, we have 4 new fields.

{$E_{ew}$ is about 246 GeV(approximately $10^{15}$ K, a temperature exceeded until shortly after the Big Bang)}

i.e., the real world is energy dependent. The cases [a], [b] and [c] do not exist together. The fields in [c] are completely new and its like resultant fields of combinations. And Our current stage of the universe falls under [c], therefore only [c] fields exist.

"what happens to W1, W2, W3 and B?" These fields do not exists in this stage of the universe.

"does that mean the W3 and B bosons are created for an instant and then mix to form a photon in the heart of a star?"

No!. Only photons are created directly. The reason is that W3 and B fileds do not exists in this stage and therefore we can't have W3 and B quanta. Only A and Z fields exists.

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  • $\begingroup$ So the previous electroweak fields no longer exist, and the fields themselves mixed to result in the new fields. Just to make sure I'm understanding this correctly, so at the electroweak unification energy, the interaction of the fields split (metaphorically) the electroweak fields, and the new fields resulted from the components of the interactions? $\endgroup$ – Kay L Oct 12 '18 at 6:58
  • $\begingroup$ @kay L yes. Also, if we again go to this energy, the mixing decoupling occurs and we get the old fields again. $\endgroup$ – Aman pawar Oct 12 '18 at 7:06
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    $\begingroup$ This plot helps in your argument, you are really talking of the timeline of the universe, as far as we know it. hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/Astro/timlin.html $\endgroup$ – anna v Oct 12 '18 at 7:11

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