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Gluons (from English glue and the suffix -on) are elementary particles which act as the exchange particles (or gauge bosons) for the colour force between quarks, analogous to the exchange of photons in the electromagnetic force between two charged particles.[6]

Since quarks make up the baryons, and the strong interaction takes place between baryons, one could say that the color force is the source of the strong interaction, or that the strong interaction is like a residual colour force which extends beyond the baryons, for example when protons and neutrons are bound together in a nucleus.[7]

In technical terms, they are vector gauge bosons that mediate strong interactions of quarks in quantum chromodynamics (QCD). Unlike the electrically neutral photon of quantum electrodynamics (QED), gluons themselves carry colour charge and therefore participate in the strong interaction in addition to mediating it, making QCD significantly harder to analyze than QED.



The gluon is a vector boson; like the photon, it has a spin of 1 (see Ellis–Karliner_angle). While massive spin-1 particles have three polarization states, massless gauge bosons like the gluon have only two polarization states because gauge invariance requires the polarization to be transverse. In quantum field theory, unbroken gauge invariance requires that gauge bosons have zero mass (experiment limits the gluon's mass to less than a few MeV/c2). The gluon has negative intrinsic parity.

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