Eli5: Can two photon particles hit each other? What happens if they did?

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Eli5: Can two photon particles hit each other? What happens if they did?

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6 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

If they have enough energy they can become a mater/antimatter pair. Most likely they just don’t interact.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Most photons can’t interact as their energies are too low. This includes visible light, UV, x-ray, infrared, and radio.

If they have enough energy to “pay” for the resulting “mass” they can create matter+antimatter. The lowest energy option for that is electron+positron, which already needs strong gamma radiation photons. With even more energy it can create even heavier stuff.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Great question.

Let’s start with what it means for two particles to “hit” each other – folks on reddit love to point out that you can never actually touch something, because your electrons repel the electrons of other atoms and keep contact from happening.

But that repelling *is* what it means for two things to “touch.” Fermions, a set of particles which includes protons, electrons and neutrons, cannot occupy the same space and state at the same time, but they can interact with each other via one or more of the fundamental forces (gravity, electromagnetism, and strong/weak atomic forces).

But photons are not fermions and they don’t obey that rule. They are bosons – not particles of matter, but a force-carrying particle. As such, they do not interact with each other directly, and cannot hit each other in the same way that fermions can.

However, high-energy photons (i.e. high-frequency/low wavelength) are *weird*. At that point the energy of the photon is so high that it can spontaneously convert into massive particles, including things like protons and electrons. When two photons of very high energy get close to each other, the matter that they’re continuously turning into and out of can interact. This can cause the light to scatter, or for matter to be temporarily created.

This interaction between high-energy photons accounts for why high-energy light tends to drop off rapidly as we look further away – it’s scattering each other and making it harder to reach earth.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Good question, there are quite recent discoveries that say they may (but it’s very unlikely)- I don’t know about that much, just search “proton-proton scattering”

Anonymous 0 Comments

Photon-photon annihilation is possible. It’s incredibly rare, and it results in two new photons with an equal energy to the initial photons.

The change it so weak that is has only been observed in very high energy photons.

Anonymous 0 Comments

There are two types of particles:
– force particles
– matter particles

Two force particles can be in the same space at the same time. Like magnetic and gravity.
Matter particles like electrons and quarks (the stuff protons are made of), or two electrons, are mutually exclusive to the same space.

Photons are force particles and normally cannot hit each other.