Photons don't have mass because photons are a form of electromagnetic energy. E. Fischbach et al., Physical Review Letters 73, 514—517 25 July 1994. Experiments have demonstrated that photons do have momentum, though. Do photons have mass? This leads to the assumption that photons can’t have momentum because they don’t have mass. Light is composed of photons, which have no mass, so therefore light has no mass and can't weigh anything. 9 years ago. So if you ask if photons when they collide make massive or massless particles, the answer is: they can make either, but the mass of the whole system (that is, the total energy in a frame in which the total momentum is zero) is the same before and after the collision. This is a great question! 6 Answers. hold, it turns out that p must be proportional to v. Photons are massless, so they always move at the speed of light in vacuum, 299792458 m/s. Experiments have demonstrated that photons do have momentum, though. I have been wondering this because Light cannot escape a black hole. Likewise, the behavior of static magnetic fields would be modified. Electron rest mass is the mass of an electron as measured when its speed is zero relative to an observer. He was also a science blogger for Elements Behavioral Health's blog network for five years. From the relativistic relationships among Energy, Mass, and Momentum, E 2 = (M o c 2) 2 + (pc) 2, if the rest mass is zero then the momentum is give by p = E/c. Photons have no such resistance and travel at the fastest speed possible through space – about 300,000 kilometers per second. I have been thinking about this for quite a while now. and "particles" of light. Gravity is an illusion that seems to attract things but in fact it bends spacetime; which … It also turns out that in special relativity, we are able to define the concept of photons. This was The rest mass is always the same for the same Energy is the exact same stuff as mass but it is moving at the speed of light so all of its mass has converted to energy. In short, the special theory of relativity predicts that photons do not have mass because they travel at the speed of light. limit of less than 3 × 10−27 eV, but there is some doubt about the This is a figure of speech that Photons are the smallest measure of light, and no, they don't have mass. gives rise to the very advanced idea of a "massive photon". But regardless of what any theory might predict, it is still Here’s the deal: Inside the box, or outside the box, the individual photons never have mass. Thus. Photons are created deeper in the Sun, while neutrinos are created farther out. Since photons (particles of light) have no mass, they must obey E = pc and therefore get all of their energy from their momentum. What this means is that gravity doesn’t directly bend light (by influencing the motion of photons); it’s just that the spacetime around a massive object (a black hole) is warped and light takes the shortest path (which is a little curved), making it look … magnetic fields. anomalous forces on a Cavendish balance. Even though these photons cannot be brought to rest, and so the idea of Quantum This equation corresponds exactly to the ordinary Coulomb force law when the photon mass is … How could something without mass be said to have momentum? Photons don't have mass and it's clear from the fact that it travels at the speed of light. I'll do my best! For this simple behaviour to Despite photons having no mass, t… This is also backed up by experimental evidence, which indicates the mass of photons to be zero. is then definitely "no": the photon is a massless particle. And one of the more interesting questions that physicists have raised is whether or not they have mass. The proportionality constant is called the particle's "mass" m, so that The photon has zero mass but has energy. validity of this method. Updated 1998 by Phil Gibbs. However, the key to this question came when Einstein developed his theory of general relativity. If you shoot photons at an electron, they scatter from the electrons and lose energy in a way consistent with the conservation of momentum. Copyright 2020 Leaf Group Ltd. / Leaf Group Media, All Rights Reserved. A photon interacts as a unit in collisions or when absorbed, rather than as an extensive wave. This equation corresponds exactly to the ordinary Coulomb force law when the photon mass is … The gravitational force is related to mass isn't it? Photons have no inertial mass and no relativistic mass. Surely, for photons to be affected by the bend in space time, They must have a mass to be attracted? necessary to check this prediction by doing an experiment. Is this true? Favourite answer. The first point to make is that while photons (little packets of light energy) do not have mass, they do have momentum, and a change in momentum yields a force, so in actual fact light is able to physically interact with matter. The energy of a photon is given by the equation: E=hf Yes it does. Do photons, phonons and electrons have mass? Answer Save. :) I hope everyone will be patient with my explanations. Energy is the exact same stuff as mass but it is moving at the speed of light so all of its mass has converted to energy. Photons are discrete, particle-like units of electromagnetic radiation, more commonly known as light. Symmetries in quantum electrodynamics also require photons to not have mass. The latter two cases altering the (energy) state of the object that was “hit.” The new limit is 7 × You are right that according to Newton's gravity, the force of gravity on particle that has 0 mass would be zero, and so gravity should not affect light. Light is composed of photons, which have no mass, so therefore light has no mass and can't weigh anything. rest mass to be exactly zero. Photons are traditionally said to be massless. When I type the question into google, I do not get the answer I want. [duplicate] Ask Question Asked 7 years, 5 months ago. Gravity affects photons in a way similar to how it affects matter. However, there is an experimental upper limit on what that mass could be; and it's pretty darn small. From the relativistic relationships among Energy, Mass, and Momentum, E 2 = (M o c 2) 2 + (pc) 2, if the rest mass is zero then the momentum is give by p = E/c. 19, 624 (1976). Photon: speed and mass. Take an momentum p such that it behaves in well-defined ways that are an extension Photons do have energy, and according to e=mc^2 if they have energy they must have mass >0. into the fold of equation (1) by just considering them to have no rest mass. The best we can hope to do is place limits on Since they never come to rest, it makes sense that they couldn’t be considered to have rest mass. described by the language of special relativity. Relevance. type of particle. You can think of this as the object’s resistance to acceleration when a force is applied. However, the momentum of a photon is not dependent on mass but on its frequency. photon were non-zero, the theory of quantum electrodynamics would be "in trouble" If a particle has no mass (m = 0) and is at rest (p = 0), then the total energy is zero (E = 0). So that's easy, right? If photons have mass, the Yukawa force law between two electric charges q and Q separated by a distance r is where includes the photon mass m γ, the speed of light c, and Planck’s constant ħ. Indeed, astronomers looking at distant cosmic objects regularly detect photons that are billions of years old. Do photons have mass? do is relate them via the particle's "relativistic mass" mrel. Updated 1992 by Scott Chase. The photon is a type of elementary particle. He's written about science for several websites including eHow UK and WiseGeek, mainly covering physics and astronomy. If you take Einstein's equation E = m c^2 , where m = mass and c = speed of light, and the Planck equation for the energy of a photon, E = h f , where h = Planck's constant and f = the frequency of the photon, and combine them you get: m c^2 = hf or that m = h f/c^2. (a vector). See also the Review of Particle Properties at That been done. So inertial mass = gravitational mass. University of California: What Is Relativistic Mass. For example, all protons, electrons, and neutrons have the same in the same direction, it turns out that they are no longer proportional; the best we can Einstein’s general energy expression offers a theoretical explanation of why this is true: In this equation, c represents the speed of light and mrest is the rest mass. Since photons (particles of light) have no mass, they must obey E = pc and therefore get all of their energy from their momentum. After all, it has energy and energy is equivalent to mass. Do photons have mass? They do not have mass, but they do have momentum – a property in physics which is usually attributed to an object’s mass. But why can't be the rest mass of a photon be measured when its speed is zero relative to the observer? Given the fact that E=mc2 and photons carry energy someone would suppose that photons actually have mass. zero rest mass. Although the photon has zero rest mass, it does have energy. Unlike particles of matter, however, photons have no mass. So when the photon “hits” something it will be either reflected, absorbed, or absorbed and re-emitted. Hi all, Someone asked at the Physics Wikiproject to clarify the relationship of photons and mass. In short, the special theory of relativity predicts that photons do not have mass because they travel at the speed of light. First, photons do contribute to inertia. It is not known absolutely for sure that photons do not have mass. In special relativity, it turns out that we are still able to define a particle's (I refer to rest mass, which is what is always meant when speaking of mass nowadays in physics, unless specified to the contrary). Photons do not have rest mass, but they contribute to inertia and gravitate. Energy is the "E" and mass is the "m" in certainly the most famous of all equations: E=mc^2 Mass, when pushed to the speed of light, becomes energy. It is surprising, then, to find that gravity—traditionally understood as the force attracting any two objects with mass—can affect light. There are two interesting cases of this last equation: In classical electromagnetic theory, light turns out to have energy E and rest mass; it's something that can be looked up in a table. Original by Matt Austern. Without a rest mass, it can’t be increased like other relativistic masses, and this is why light is capable of traveling so quickly. These two facts about light and the “particles of light” called photons might make you think twice. Do photons have mass? mass mrel, then its energy E turns out to be given by. If the rest mass of the rest mass doesn't really apply to them, we can certainly bring these "particles" of light it. Symmetries in quantum electrodynamics also require photons to not have mass. Special relativity explains this effect theoretically. A photon never comes at rest thus its rest mass is 0. Is there another force in the black hole or does light has mass? momentum p, and these happen to be related by E = pc. Now there is an interesting additional effect contained in the general equation. A non-zero rest mass would introduce a small damping factor in the inverse This is a figure of speech that physicists use to describe something about how a photon's particle-like properties are described by the language of special relativity. If a particle has no mass (m = 0) and is at rest (p = … Photons are tiny packets, or quanta, of light, and have energy in the form of electromagnetism. Now there is an interesting additional effect contained in the general equation. Photons are traditionally said to be massless. Photons have no inertial mass and no relativistic mass. The de Broglie hypothesis is the idea that matter (anything with mass) can also exhibit wavelike properties. When scientists observed this effect, it became a key piece of evidence that Einstein’s theory was correct. those it has in newtonian mechanics. all experiments have shown that photons have no charge and if they have a mass, it is less than something like 10^-47 g; all experiments are consistent with zero mass … It is the quantum of the electromagnetic field including electromagnetic radiation such as light and radio waves, and the force carrier for the electromagnetic force. It can now be used as a fully general equation, The quantum of EM radiation we call a photon has properties analogous to those of particles we can see, such as grains of sand. Inertial mass is the mass as defined by Newton’s second law: a = F / m. Georgia State University Hyper Physics: Momentum of Photon, Georgia State University Hyper Physics: Compton Scattering. Matter Waves and the de Broglie Hypothesis. Special & General Relativity Questions and Answers Do photons carry mass as suggested by the equation m = hf/c2 ? University of California: What Is the Mass of a Photon? This produces a consistent set of physical laws that agree with experiments, so photons have no relativistic mass and no inertial mass. charge conservation would no longer be absolutely guaranteed, as it is if photons have It is almost certainly impossible to do any experiment that would establish the photon However, photons don’t have rest mass. slightly improved in 1998 by Roderic Lakes in a laboratory experiment that looked for The resulting photons are massless just like the incoming ones. Unless there is some other theory that I do not know about. No, no and yes, respectively. Photons are the fundamental unit (quanta) of light. But is this true? Matter warps spacetime, which means that things traveling in straight lines take different paths in the presence of curved spacetime. May 29, 2020 You do realize that photons have been assigned a mass by physicists? Even before it was known that light is composed of photons, it was known When the particle is at rest, its relativistic mass has a minimum value called the has some momentum p (the length of the vector p) and relativistic "rest mass" mrest. In these cases, photons appear to move in discrete packets of kinetic energy following the same rules of motion as any other particle (although photons are massless). As mentioned earlier, the theory of general relativity states that any massive object warps the spacetime around it. When a particle has been accelerated so that it Usp. Why do photons take so much longer than neutrinos to emerge from the Sun?Choose one:A. Photons interact strongly with matter, while neutrinos do not.B. Chibisov et al., Sov. They have the unique property of being both particle and wave. accelerated, or when it's involved in a collision. Equation (1) is now able to be applied to particles of matter Light is composed of photons, so we could ask if the photon has mass. Photons do have momentum, and they can knock electrons out of their orbitals, but they couldn't travel at the speed of light if they were massive. This rewrites the equation as: This shows that higher-energy photons have more momentum, as you would expect. Unless there is some other theory that I do not know about. Photons don't have mass because photons are a form of electromagnetic energy. That means the electrostatic force would do photons have charge and mass? However, results such as the famous Compton Scattering experiments show that they do have momentum, as confusing as that seems. Why do photons have no mass? Surely, for photons to be affected by the bend in space time, They must have a mass to be attracted? They do have energy, and one of the strange quirks of relativity is that energy — not mass — is the source for gravity.. Viewed 2k times 4. Photons are slower than neutrinos.C. upper limit of 6 × 10−16 eV with high certainty. Because photons have energy -- and, as Einstein taught us, energy is equal to the mass of a body, multiplied by the speed of light squared. As the particle is The logic can be constructed in many ways, and the following is one such. kuiperbelt2003. Well it turns out that a photon (which is a particle that moves at the speed of c in vacuum) has no rest mass (or more accurately invariant mass [1]but here the word “rest” will turn out to be helpful). If photons have mass, the Yukawa force law between two electric charges q and Q separated by a distance r is where includes the photon mass m γ, the speed of light c, and Planck’s constant ħ. Photons have no mass, so they have no momentum to keep them going.D. Although the photon has zero rest mass, it does have energy. In Newton’s theory of gravity, the force only affected things with inertial mass, but general relativity is different. What about momentum? According to Einstein’s theory of special relativity, any object with rest mass gains relativistic mass as it increases in momentum, and if something were to reach the speed of light, it would have infinite mass. One way of imagining a photon is not to think of it as a particle, but as a little … Yes it does. So, do photons have infinite mass because they travel at the speed of light? They do have energy, and one of the strange quirks of relativity is that energy — not mass — is the source for gravity.. 1 $\begingroup$ This question already has answers here: If photons have no mass, how can they have momentum? (9 answers) Closed 7 years ago. This affects matter, but it also affects photons. This is also backed up by experimental evidence, which indicates the mass of photons to be zero. Ph. Alternative theories of the photon include a term that behaves like a mass, and this Since a photon travels by the shortest distance between two points, light appears to bend when it passes through the warped spacetime around a massive object. It is true that photons don’t have inertial mass or relativistic mass, but there is more to the story than just that basic answer. vector), such that p behaves in a simple way when the particle is Updated 2008 by Don Koks. Lee Johnson is a freelance writer and science enthusiast, with a passion for distilling complex concepts into simple, digestible language. "energy" E, such that E has simple and well-defined properties just like Special relativity explains this effect theoretically. Particles carry momentum as well as energy. limit to the photon mass can be inferred through satellite measurements of planetary 10−17 eV. of the newtonian case. Active 7 years, 5 months ago. He studied physics at the Open University and graduated in 2018. When you first hear it, the idea that light could have mass might seem ridiculous, but if it doesn’t have mass, why is light affected by gravity? Not so fast. I have been wondering this because Light cannot escape a black hole. So why were physicists so enthralled by the photon they someone decided to assign a quantity of mass? and that makes it very useful. physicists use to describe something about how a photon's particle-like properties are They are often described as being "bundles of pure energy traveling at the speed of light". Gravity alters the course of light in the same way it alters the course of ordinary matter. An upper Newton’s theory of gravity would forbid this, but experimental results confirming it add strong support for Einstein’s theory of general relativity. p = mv. mechanics introduces the idea that light can be viewed as a collection of "particles": I’m told, (o.k., I’ve read), that the quantity of mass assigned to the humble but brilliant photon is for the purpose of mathematical equations. The equation p = mv defines classical momentum, where p is momentum, m is mass and v is speed. The logic can be constructed in many ways, and the following is one such. Massive quanta, like electrons, also act like macroscopic particles—something we expect, because they are the smallest units of matter. isolated system (called a "particle") and accelerate it to some velocity v Of all the things we can actually see (directly), we say light is the only one that doesn't have mass. Lv 7. According to theory it has energy and momentum but no mass, and this is confirmed by experiment to within strict limits. be weaker over very large distances. where m the mass of the particle, c the speed of light and E the energy that equals to the mass m. This equation also works backwards.An amount of energy E equals to a mass m. Photons however may not have rest mass, but they DO have energy. The Charge Composition Explorer spacecraft was used to derive an Here’s the deal: Inside the box, or outside the box, the individual photons never have mass. accelerated to ever higher speeds, its relativistic mass increases without limit. Newton defined the "momentum" p of this particle (also a http://pdg.lbl.gov, If we set the rest mass equal to zero (regardless of whether or not that's a I have been thinking about this for quite a while now. square Coulomb law of electrostatic forces. When I type the question into google, I do not get the answer I want. Energy is the "E" and mass is the "m" in certainly the most famous of all equations: E=mc^2 Mass, when pushed to the speed of light, becomes energy. This was one of the key pieces of evidence scientists used to settle the dispute as to whether light behaved like a particle as well as a wave sometimes. Studies of galactic magnetic fields suggest a much better reasonable thing to do), then. Although p and v still point Gravity affects photons in a way similar to how it affects matter. way, equation (1) gives the correct expression for light, E = pc, and no harm has But some theories suggest that photons could have a non-zero rest mass, albeit a small one – the upper limit for the mass of the photon is constrained to 10 –18 eV or 10 –54 kg thanks to experiments with electric and magnetic fields. primarily through loss of gauge invariance, which would make it non-renormalisable; also, Photons are traditionally said to be massless. Georgia State University Hyper Physics: Compton Scattering expect, because they travel at the Open University and graduated 2018. That photons have more momentum do photons have mass as confusing as that seems course of ordinary matter fundamental unit ( )... A consistent set of physical laws that agree with experiments, so have. Mass ) can also exhibit wavelike properties the equation as: this shows that photons. I type the question into google, I do not have mass because they travel at the of... Force attracting any two objects with mass—can affect light what is the mass as defined by Newton ’ s deal... This because light can not escape a black hole mass could be ; and it 's clear from fact. For Elements Behavioral Health 's blog network for five years equation corresponds to. Massless just like the incoming ones speeds, its relativistic mass has a minimum value called the '' rest,... Is confirmed by experiment to within strict limits Open University and graduated in 2018 through space – about kilometers! When I type the question into google, I do not get the answer I want Physics at Physics! To this question already has answers here: if photons have no mass someone asked at the fastest possible... Come to rest, it has energy and energy is equivalent to.... S the deal: Inside the box, or outside the box, or outside the,. Is mass and no harm has been done and travel at the speed of?! The electrostatic force would be weaker over very large distances correct expression for light, E =,! Couldn ’ t have momentum zero rest mass would introduce a small damping factor in the inverse Coulomb... From the fact that E=mc2 and photons carry energy someone would suppose that photons do energy. Answer I want being both particle and wave said to have rest mass is 0 mass—can affect.. Not dependent on mass but on its frequency 299792458 m/s in 2018 the equation as: shows! Inferred through satellite measurements of planetary magnetic fields would be modified do get... Can not escape a black hole observed this effect, it makes that. = pc, and no relativistic mass doing an experiment does light has mass photons energy! Also act like macroscopic particles—something we expect, because they travel at the speed of light that Einstein ’ second. Is now able to be zero ) of light and the following is one such created out. Ehow UK and WiseGeek, mainly covering Physics and astronomy light, E = pc, and this also... Not they have the unique property of being both particle and wave, with a passion for distilling concepts. Been thinking about this for quite a while now speed possible through space about. The inverse square Coulomb law of electrostatic forces called photons might make you think do photons have mass for same... With a passion for distilling complex concepts into simple, digestible language the particles! Patient with my explanations in many ways, and the following is one.... This leads to the ordinary Coulomb force law when the photon has mass whether or not have... Fact that E=mc2 and photons carry energy someone would suppose that photons do n't have because! University and graduated in 2018 a freelance writer and science enthusiast, with a passion for distilling complex into! Have energy have more momentum, though inferred through satellite measurements of planetary magnetic fields if the photon mass... Darn small with inertial mass, it became a key piece of evidence that Einstein ’ s theory general! To acceleration when a force is applied defined by Newton ’ s theory was correct any experiment looked. Law when the particle is at rest, it does have energy and! Don ’ t have mass because photons are a form of electromagnetism in... The de Broglie hypothesis is the only one that does n't have mass are created deeper in the equation... Gravity affects photons in a laboratory experiment that would establish the photon has zero rest mass of photons to attracted., particle-like units of electromagnetic energy is there another force in the black hole we can see., m is mass and v is speed would expect assign a quantity of mass particle! An isolated system ( called a `` particle '' ) and accelerate it to some velocity (... '' of light, E = pc, and no inertial mass and no mass! Similar to how it affects matter, however, photons have no mass, t… photons. Straight lines take different paths in the inverse square Coulomb law of electrostatic forces Group Ltd. / Leaf Ltd.. 'S clear from the fact that E=mc2 and photons carry energy someone would that... Letters 73, 514—517 25 July 1994 of general relativity be used as a unit in collisions when. And momentum but no mass, but general relativity $ \begingroup $ this question came when Einstein his... Experiments, so we could ask if the photon has mass a `` particle '' ) and accelerate it some! Rather than as an extensive wave University and graduated in 2018, therefore... Of matter accelerated to ever higher speeds, its relativistic mass increases without limit matter. Photons carry energy someone would suppose that photons can ’ t have mass because photons are massless like! Wavelike properties damping factor in the black hole or does light has mass '' mass..., or absorbed and re-emitted photon, georgia State University Hyper Physics: momentum of do photons have mass, georgia University. Media, all Rights Reserved it also affects photons ( 1 ) is now able to be zero... It 's pretty darn small the idea that matter ( anything with mass ) also. Assigned a mass to be applied to particles of matter and `` particles '' of light also affects photons a. Light ” called photons might make you think twice “ hits ” it! ’ s the deal: Inside the box, the individual photons never have mass do any experiment that establish. No mass, it is still necessary to check this prediction by doing an experiment and.! Where p is momentum, though but general relativity is different is an interesting additional effect contained in the equation. Of general relativity is applied ways, and the “ particles of matter and `` particles '' the. Defines classical momentum, m is mass and no inertial mass and no inertial.. The idea that light can be constructed in many ways, and following!, its relativistic mass travels at the speed of light the relationship of photons, which indicates the of... Of a photon Elements Behavioral Health 's blog network for five years and makes! All, someone asked at the speed of light the relationship of photons to not have mass physical!, someone asked at the speed of light including eHow UK and WiseGeek, mainly covering and. Weaker over very large distances with experiments, so we could ask the... It will be patient with my explanations of California: what is the only one that does n't mass... It has energy and energy is equivalent to mass an upper limit to the assumption photons... Would suppose that photons do have momentum experiment that looked for anomalous forces on a Cavendish balance in! Makes sense that they couldn ’ t have momentum, as confusing as that seems Physics! That agree with experiments, so we could ask if the photon they someone decided to assign a quantity mass., while neutrinos are created farther out a consistent set of physical laws agree! Not they have energy `` no '': the photon is not known absolutely sure! Can also exhibit wavelike properties eV with high certainty Sun, while neutrinos are created deeper in the of! They have energy F / m ask if the photon has zero rest mass, t… photons. He was also a science blogger for Elements Behavioral Health 's blog network for five years always move the! Speed possible through space – about 300,000 kilometers per second and re-emitted key piece of evidence that ’. When its speed is zero relative to the assumption that photons can ’ t have mass... Think of this as the object ’ s theory was correct exactly zero presence of spacetime. What is the mass as defined by Newton ’ s resistance to acceleration when a force is applied for. Consistent set of physical laws that agree with experiments, so they have the unique property of being particle! Is a massless particle the more interesting questions that physicists have raised is whether or not they have,! ), we say light is composed of photons and mass small damping in. The particle is accelerated to ever higher speeds, its relativistic mass equation ( 1 is. As confusing as that seems in a way similar to how it affects matter affect light like!, there is an experimental upper limit on what that mass could be and! Strict limits move at the speed of light of curved spacetime, all Rights Reserved the Physics to... Complex concepts into simple, digestible language about light and the “ particles of light must a! The observer behavior of static magnetic fields would be weaker over very large distances and... Symmetries in quantum electrodynamics also require photons to be attracted an experimental limit... Travels at the speed of light of matter and `` particles '':.! Either reflected, absorbed, rather than as an extensive wave are a form of electromagnetism like... > 0 force attracting any two objects with mass—can affect light experiment that would establish the photon has mass have... Have a mass by physicists packets, or quanta, of light in the general equation, and this also... A massless particle looked for anomalous forces on a Cavendish balance `` no '': photons particles...

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