Fundamental Strong Force
The strong interaction or strong force is one of the four fundamental forces and involves the exchange of the vector gauge bosons known as gluons. In general, the strong interaction is very complicated interaction, because it significantly varies with distance. The strong nuclear force holds most ordinary matter together because it confines quarks into hadron particles such as the proton and neutron. Moreover, the strong force is the force which can hold a nucleus together against the enormous forces of repulsion (electromagnetic force) of the protons is strong indeed. From this point of view, we have to distinguish between:
- Fundamental Strong Force. The fundamental strong force, or the strong force, is a very short range (less than about 0.8 fm, the radius of a nucleon) force, that acts directly between quarks. This force holds quarks together to form protons, neutrons, and other hadron particles. The strong interaction is mediated by the exchange of massless particles called gluons that act between quarks, antiquarks, and other gluons.
- Residual Strong Force. The residual strong force, also known as the nuclear force, is a very short range (about 1 to 3 fm) force, which acts to hold neutrons and protons together in nuclei. In nuclei, this force acts against the enormous repulsive electromagnetic force of the protons. The term residual is associated with the fact, it is the residuum of the fundamental strong interaction between the quarks that make up the protons and neutrons. The residual strong force acts indirectly through the virtual π and ρ mesons, which transmit the force between nucleons that holds the nucleus together.
In strong interactions the quarks exchange gluons, the carriers of the strong force. Gluons carry the color charge of the strong nuclear force. Color charge is analogous to electromagnetic charge, but quarks carry three types of color charge (red, green, blue) and antiquarks carry three types of anticolor (antired, antigreen, antiblue). Gluons may be thought of as carrying both color and anticolor.
Most of the mass of a common proton or neutron is the result of the strong force field energy. The individual quarks provide only about 1% of the mass of a proton. Noteworthy, because most of your mass is due to the protons and neutrons in your body, your mass (and therefore your weight on a bathroom scale) comes primarily from the gluons that bind the constituent quarks together, rather than from the quarks themselves. Mass is primarily a measure of the energies of the quark motion and the quark-binding fields.
Range of Strong Force
As was written, the strong interaction is very complicated interaction, because it significantly varies with distance. At distances comparable to the diameter of a proton, the strong force is approximately 100 times as strong as electromagnetic force. At smaller distances, however, the strong force between quarks becomes weaker, and the quarks begin to behave like independent particles. In particle physics, this effect is known as asymptotic freedom.
As a result, the strong force can leaks out of individual nucleons (as the residual strong force) to influence the adjacent particle. On the other hand, the strong force cannot reach outside the nucleus. This is due to color confinement, which implies that the strong force acts only between pairs of quarks. Simply, color charged particles (such as quarks and gluons) cannot be isolated (below Hagedorn temperature) and therefore in collections of bound quarks (i.e., hadrons), the net color-charge of the quarks essentially cancels out, resulting in a limit of the action of the forces.
Strength of Strong Force
It is the strongest of the four fundamental forces, but as was written, it significantly varies with distance. At the scale of quarks, the strong force is approximately 100 times as strong as electromagnetic force, a million times as strong as the weak interaction, and 1043 times as strong as gravitation.