# Do gravitons refer to gravity or to gravitational waves?

I am confused about what gravitons exactly are.

On the one hand it is said that gravitons are presumed to represent gravity (see Wikipedia "Graviton" : "In theories of quantum gravity, the graviton is the hypothetical quantum of gravity, an elementary particle that mediates the force of gravitational interaction.")

On the other hand, gravitons are compared to photons which are representing electromagnetic radiation (see Wikipedia "Electromagnetic radiation" : "In quantum mechanics, an alternate way of viewing EMR is that it consists of photons".)

The point is that electromagnetic waves are generated by accelerating charges and gravitational waves are supposed to be generated by accelerating masses, and as far as I know, gravitational waves are not a direct effect of gravity but an effect of accelerating masses.

So, if gravitational waves are not a direct effect of gravity itself, are gravitons an "alternate way of viewing" gravitational waves or are they a direct effect of gravity?

• I don't understand this question. Do you think photons "refer" to electromagnetism or electromagnetic waves? What is the actual physical meaning of this distinction? Whatever your answer for the photon is, it's the same for the graviton. Commented Jul 15, 2023 at 16:45
• @AcuriousMind: As I understand, electromagnetic force is generated by accelerating charges. In contrast, for gravity, no acceleration of the mass is required. Commented Jul 15, 2023 at 16:50
• But electromagnetic forces do NOT require accelerating charges. $\vec{F} = q(\vec{E} + \vec{v}\times \vec{B})$. Commented Jul 15, 2023 at 16:54
• What do you mean, "electromagnetic force is generated by accelerating charges"? There a whole subset of electromagnetism we call electrostatics because the charges don't move there! Commented Jul 15, 2023 at 16:54
• There is a difference: EM is linear, GR not. So the question still makes sense! Do gravitons allow to recover linearzed GR in the classical limit or the full GR? Commented Jul 15, 2023 at 18:52