Proton - Neutron Interaction
What would happen if a proton and a neutron collided?
All sorts of things could happen depending on the energies involved (how
fast the proton and neutron are moving when they collide).
At low energies, they would just scatter off each other "elastically". That
means they do not change their structure at all and do not produce any new
particles. At very high energies (where I have studied what happens) all
sorts of things can and do happen. First you can produce many new
particles, transforming the kinetic energies of the nucleons (protons and
neutrons are called nucleons) into other particles such as pi mesons,
photons, strange particles, and even more exotic particles. You could also
tear apart the nucleons, changing them to quite different kinds of
particles. The subject is quite complicated, but fascinating.
Best, Dick Plano, Professor of Physics emeritus, Rutgers University
What would happen depends greatly on how fast the proton and neutron are
If moving slowly, nothing much would happen at all. They might bounce off
each other. They might just "ignore" each other.
If moving quickly, with a large amount of energy, they are more likely to
interact. They might cause each other to slow down and release radiation.
If moving very fast, a huge amount of energy, they will produce many
different particles and antiparticles. Much of the energy in their motion
will be converted to particles (E=mc^2). There will be electrons, muons,
pions, and K-particles flying all over.
Dr. Ken Mellendorf
Illinois Central College
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Update: June 2012