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Thread: Destruction of virtual particles and virtual particle pairs

  1. #1 Destruction of virtual particles and virtual particle pairs 
    Forum Freshman
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    I'm trying to understand the process that destroys particles very shortly after they "appear". I have read that they are usually annihilated by a virtual antiparticle, much in the same way as can happen to real particles. However, is this always the case? And if so, is it an intrinsic property of these particles to appear in pairs and why exactly is this?


    In other words: could a virtual (anti)particle be created on its "own", without a partner, for example because of the Heisenberg time-energy uncertainty relation, simply because it exists too briefly for it to have any real energy? Apparently, a virtual pair can be split up (Hawking radiation), but can they also be created that way?


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  3. #2  
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    You have to look at the various conservation laws to understand why they come in pairs. Conservation of energy, charge, fermion number, etc., all constrain what type of virtual particles can be created. This depends on the process, but even virtual particles have to obey these conservation laws.

    It is possible to split up virtual particle pairs using an external field, but then they become real particles.


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