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How do W bosons behave electromagnetically?

Posted: Sun Jul 16, 2017 10:18 pm UTC
by bouer
Could the W+ or W- bosons exist in electromagnetically bound states? A neutral W+e- "atom" for instance. I understand that W bosons decay very quickly into much lighter particles. Are there other reasons such a situation would not be possible?

How would this Watom behave if it formed? Would it be chemically like a very heavy isotope of Hydrogen?

Re: How do W bosons behave electromagnetically?

Posted: Sun Jul 16, 2017 11:10 pm UTC
by eSOANEM
Sure, if you ignore the W boson decaying (which you really can't do; they're halflife's on the order of 10-27 s) it totally could work. As it's only got a single charge it'd chemically behave like hydrogen despite having a mass much more like bromine.

Of course, it's still completely impossible from a physical pov (it'll definitely decay, almost certainly into an electron neutrino before you have a chance to do any chemistry.

Re: How do W bosons behave electromagnetically?

Posted: Mon Jul 17, 2017 5:04 am UTC
by Eebster the Great
Many real exotic atoms have been made, such as positronium, a hydrogen atom in which the proton is replaced by a positron (and even a dipositronium molecule consisting of two positronium atoms covalently bonded), protonium, a hydrogen atom in which the electron is replaced by an antiproton, antiprotonic helium, a helium atom in which one electron is replaced by an antiproton, and many more, typically with an electron replaced by a muon or baryon or a nucleon replaced by a hyperon. It gets a lot more complicated than that though, and very quickly the definition of "atom" becomes blurred.

The reason this does not work with the W bosons is, as eSOANEM said, that their mean lifetime is many orders of magnitude shorter than these other (still extremely short-lived) species.

Re: How do W bosons behave electromagnetically?

Posted: Mon Jul 17, 2017 12:50 pm UTC
by doogly
But those are all still with leptons. Maybe there is no better reason than the halflife that the bosons couldn't, but I have a sneaking suspicion that something would be upset if you tried.

Re: How do W bosons behave electromagnetically?

Posted: Mon Jul 17, 2017 2:39 pm UTC
by Eebster the Great
doogly wrote:But those are all still with leptons.

Maybe there is no better reason than the halflife that the bosons couldn't, but I have a sneaking suspicion that something would be upset if you tried.

At the scale of the atom, plenty of nuclei are already bosons.

Re: How do W bosons behave electromagnetically?

Posted: Mon Jul 17, 2017 5:30 pm UTC
by doogly
yeah, that sounds compelling. probably nothing special.

Re: How do W bosons behave electromagnetically?

Posted: Mon Jul 17, 2017 5:57 pm UTC
by bouer
The "Watom" would be a fermion, so it would be more like deuterium than protium. The electron orbit wouldn't be affected at all by it's strange new nucleus? It seems so strange to me that the only thing preventing gauge bosons from mixing with our mundane chemicals is that they decay too quickly. Photons and gluons behave so differently from matter.

Replacing the electron in a hydrogen atom with a W- would be very different though, the orbital radius would be about 100 000 times smaller. We'd get fusion instead of chemistry.

Re: How do W bosons behave electromagnetically?

Posted: Tue Aug 01, 2017 5:37 pm UTC
by moody7277
bouer wrote:The "Watom" would be a fermion, so it would be more like deuterium than protium. The electron orbit wouldn't be affected at all by it's strange new nucleus? It seems so strange to me that the only thing preventing gauge bosons from mixing with our mundane chemicals is that they decay too quickly. Photons and gluons behave so differently from matter.

Replacing the electron in a hydrogen atom with a W- would be very different though, the orbital radius would be about 100 000 times smaller. We'd get fusion instead of chemistry.


If I remember correctly, that was one reason why people wanted to try replacing the electron in an H atom with a muon.