So I’m aware of the quantum numbers (n,l,m,m) which describe electrons in relation to their respective nuclei. And it’s straightforward enough to understand that there are actual #s of electrons and how they can result in different ions, bonds, etc.
But something I cannot wrap my head around is how photons seemingly are related to electrons? What is the orientation / orbit of photons that are absorbed/emissed by electrons that range from a ground to excited state? Do electrons in general contain an average number of photons or what? And if this line of thinking is even correct, ie that any given electron will have some fixed number of photons that are part of its… wave, or what have you, what is the state in which those photons are tethered to that respective electron? Do they exist as little randomized orbiting particles, or what?
Photons are pure energy (they have no mass). If an electron encounters a photon with an energy equal to an allowable energy transition, it will absorb the photon and go to the new energy level. If the photon has an energy that isn’t equal to an allowable energy transition then it will not absorb the photon–an example of a non-allowable energy is one which would put the electron into the same quantum state as an existing electron since they’re fermions.
If an energy is not in it’s lowest energy state then it can transition to a lower (allowable) state by emitting a photon of appropriate energy. You can think of the photon as spawning out of thin air if you like, but it is actually created from the energy liberated by the electrons jump to a lower energy state.
Photons and electrons are entirely separate particles. They do interact, usually in the form of absorption or emission. When an electron changes energy levels it emits a photon. Or, an electron can absorb a photon and increase in energy level. At a basic level that is their only interaction.