What are subatomic particles?

We explain what subatomic particles and studies are about. In addition, the types of particles that exist.

  1. What are subatomic particles?

Subatomic particles are understood as structures of matter that are smaller than the atom , and that therefore form part of it and determine its properties. These particles can be of two types: compound and elementary, that is, divisible and indivisible respectively.

Throughout history, the human being has studied the subject and has proposed various theories and more or less scientific approaches to the smallest particles that exist, which make up everything.

The different atomic models proposed since ancient times found what appears to be their definitive form in contemporary times, thanks to the development of quantum theory, electrochemistry and nuclear physics, among other disciplines.

Thus, it is known today that the atom, the smallest unit in which matter is found , is mostly composed of a vacuum , with an atomic nucleus of particles in which the greatest percentage of its mass is concentrated, and other particles more turning around, attracted by weak and strong nuclear forces.

All these subatomic particles  are generally endowed with different energy properties , which together determine the general properties of the atom.

The experimental study of subatomic particles is arduous, since many of them are unstable and can only be observed in particle accelerators or in the atmosphere during the impact of cosmic rays. However, its most stable forms are known, such as electrons , protons and neutrons .

  1. Types of subatomic particles

subatomic particle
Protons and neutrons can be subdivided into simpler particles called quarks.

Subatomic particles are classified according to various criteria. For example, the most known and stable particles are three: electrons, protons and neutrons , different from each other by their electrical charge (negative, positive and neutral respectively) or by the fact that electrons are elementary particles (indivisible) and the last ones Two are composed. In addition, they are located in different lines of the atom: the electrons orbit the nucleus, while the protons and neutrons compose it.

On the other hand, protons and neutrons, being composite particles, can be subdivided into other simpler particles, called quarks, joined together by another type of particles called gluons. The latter are indivisible particles. There are six types of quarks: up, down, bottom, top, strange and charm.

Similarly, there are photons, which are the subatomic particles responsible for electromagnetic interaction; and also neutrinos and bosons, responsible for weak nuclear forces.

However, it should be noted that the behavior of matter at these infinitesimal levels is still a challenge for science, and that there are various theories to explain its behavior or its constitution , such as string theory.

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