Carriers of the strong force

19/09/2008

In my preceding post I discuss the question of the proton spin, experimental measurements and the relevant conclusion that these measurements are consistent with the fact that there is no glue contribution  to spin. Rather, we have a partial contribution by quarks and the remanent should be due to orbital angular momentum. I concluded from this that the infrared carriers of the strong force are not properly gluons but rather spin 0 excitations. In this post I would like to expand on this matter to make clear that all this is plainly obtained from QCD and so, fully consistent with the theory. Anyhow, it should be remembered that the quark sea for nucleons plays a relevant role in this case making quarks dressed.

The question is rather simple. At higher energy QCD tends to become a free theory, that is the coupling becomes increasingly small and the gluon propagator one uses at the tree level is that of a free particle. This in turn means that the non-linear contributions from Yang-Mills theory are small and small perturbation theory applies. In this limit we can identify as the excitations of Yang-Mills theory with ordinary gluons carrying spin one.

In the infrared limit, the case of low energies, the behavior of Yang-Mills theory changes radically. The reason is that in this case the non-linear terms in the equations become so strong that ordinary gluons are no more the fundamental excitations of the theory. In this case one has glueballs and the lower end of the spectrum of the glueballs carries spin zero. This is the reason why COMPASS Collaboration see no spin contributions from glue.

One should see such things in the same way quasi-particles are seen in condensed matter. The free particles that make the theory are not the one of the free theory but will depend upon the way interactions act on them. So, in the ultraviolet limit we can safely call them gluons and in the infrared limit things are quite different. In this light, it would be interesting to try to see similar measurements for charmonium and see in this case what is the contribution of glue. It may happen that this physical situation is radically different from that of the nucleon.


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