Rho meson
In particle physics
Particle physics
Particle physics is a branch of physics that studies the existence and interactions of particles that are the constituents of what is usually referred to as matter or radiation. In current understanding, particles are excitations of quantum fields and interact following their dynamics...

, a rho meson is a short-lived hadron
In particle physics, a hadron is a composite particle made of quarks held together by the strong force...

ic particle that is an isospin
In physics, and specifically, particle physics, isospin is a quantum number related to the strong interaction. This term was derived from isotopic spin, but the term is confusing as two isotopes of a nucleus have different numbers of nucleons; in contrast, rotations of isospin maintain the number...

 triplet whose three states are denoted as , and . After the pion
In particle physics, a pion is any of three subatomic particles: , , and . Pions are the lightest mesons and they play an important role in explaining the low-energy properties of the strong nuclear force....

s and kaon
In particle physics, a kaon is any one of a group of four mesons distinguished by the fact that they carry a quantum number called strangeness...

s, the rho meson
In particle physics, mesons are subatomic particles composed of one quark and one antiquark, bound together by the strong interaction. Because mesons are composed of sub-particles, they have a physical size, with a radius roughly one femtometer: 10−15 m, which is about the size of a proton...

s are the lightest strongly interacting particle with a mass of roughly for all three states. There should be a small mass difference between the and the that can be attributed to the electromagnetic self-energy of the particle as well as a small effect due to isospin breaking arising from the light quark masses; however, the current experimental limit is that this mass difference is less than .

The rho mesons have a very short lifetime and their decay width is about with the peculiar feature that the decay widths are not described by a Breit-Wigner form. The principal decay route of the rho mesons is to a pair of pions with a branching rate of 99.9%. Neutral rho mesons can decay to a pair of electron
The electron is a subatomic particle with a negative elementary electric charge. It has no known components or substructure; in other words, it is generally thought to be an elementary particle. An electron has a mass that is approximately 1/1836 that of the proton...

s or muon
The muon |mu]] used to represent it) is an elementary particle similar to the electron, with a unitary negative electric charge and a spin of ½. Together with the electron, the tau, and the three neutrinos, it is classified as a lepton...

s which occurs with a branching ratio of . This decay of the neutral rho to leptons can be interpreted as a mixing between the photon
In physics, a photon is an elementary particle, the quantum of the electromagnetic interaction and the basic unit of light and all other forms of electromagnetic radiation. It is also the force carrier for the electromagnetic force...

 and rho. In principle the charged rho mesons mix with the weak vector bosons and can lead to decay to an electron or muon plus a neutrino
A neutrino is an electrically neutral, weakly interacting elementary subatomic particle with a half-integer spin, chirality and a disputed but small non-zero mass. It is able to pass through ordinary matter almost unaffected...

; however, this has never been observed.

In the De Rujula–Georgi–Glashow description of hadrons, the rho mesons can be interpreted as a bound state of a quark
A quark is an elementary particle and a fundamental constituent of matter. Quarks combine to form composite particles called hadrons, the most stable of which are protons and neutrons, the components of atomic nuclei. Due to a phenomenon known as color confinement, quarks are never directly...

 and an anti-quark and is an excited version of the pion. Unlike the pion, the rho meson has spin j = 1 (a vector meson
Vector meson
In high energy physics, a vector meson is a meson with total spin 1 and odd parity . Compare to a pseudovector meson, which has a total spin 1 and even parity....

) and a much higher value of the mass. This mass difference between the pions and rho mesons is attributed to a large hyperfine interaction between the quark and anti-quark. The main objection with the De Rujula–Georgi–Glashow description is that it attributes the lightness of the pions as an accident rather than a result of chiral symmetry breaking
Chiral symmetry breaking
In particle physics, chiral symmetry breaking is an example of spontaneous symmetry breaking affecting the chiral symmetry of gauge theory such as Quantum Chromodynamics. The origin may be described as a fermion condensate...


The rho mesons can be thought of as the gauge boson
Gauge boson
In particle physics, gauge bosons are bosonic particles that act as carriers of the fundamental forces of nature. More specifically, elementary particles whose interactions are described by gauge theory exert forces on each other by the exchange of gauge bosons, usually as virtual particles.-...

s of a spontaneously broken gauge symmetry whose local character is emergent
Induced gravity
Induced gravity is an idea in quantum gravity that space-time background emerges asa mean field approximation of underlying microscopic degrees of freedom, similar to the fluid mechanics approximation of Bose–Einstein condensates...

 (arising from QCD
Quantum chromodynamics
In theoretical physics, quantum chromodynamics is a theory of the strong interaction , a fundamental force describing the interactions of the quarks and gluons making up hadrons . It is the study of the SU Yang–Mills theory of color-charged fermions...

); Note that this broken gauge symmetry (sometimes called hidden local symmetry) is distinct from the global
Global symmetry
A global symmetry is a symmetry that holds at all points in the spacetime under consideration, as opposed to a local symmetry which varies from point to point.Global symmetries require conservation laws, but not forces, in physics.-See also:...

 chiral symmetry
Chiral symmetry
In quantum field theory, chiral symmetry is a possible symmetry of the Lagrangian under which the left-handed and right-handed parts of Dirac fields transform independently...

 acting on the flavors. This was described by Howard Georgi
Howard Georgi
Howard Mason Georgi III, born January 6, 1947 in San Bernardino, California, is Harvard College Professor and Mallinckrodt Professor of Physics at Harvard University...

 in a paper titled "The Vector Limit of Chiral Symmetry" where he ascribed much of the literature of hidden local symmetry to a non-linear sigma model
Non-linear sigma model
In quantum field theory, a nonlinear σ model describes a scalar field Σ which takes on values in a nonlinear manifold called the target manifold T....


More recently the point of view that the rho mesons are gauge bosons has been enhanced by a program known as AdS/QCD
In theoretical physics, the AdS/QCD correspondence is a program to describe Quantum Chromodynamics in terms of a dual gravitational theory, following the principles of the AdS/CFT correspondence in a setup where the quantum field theory is not a conformal field theory.Such an alternative...

 which is an application of AdS/CFT derived from string theory
String theory
String theory is an active research framework in particle physics that attempts to reconcile quantum mechanics and general relativity. It is a contender for a theory of everything , a manner of describing the known fundamental forces and matter in a mathematically complete system...

. In this description, there is a small extra dimension that is a slice of anti-de Sitter space. The global flavor symmetries are promoted to five dimensional gauge symmetries that are broken at the boundaries of the space to isospin. The rho mesons are lightest Kaluza–Klein resonances of the fifth dimension. This program has the advantage that it is capable of making quantitative predictions for the interactions of the rho mesons. These predictions are usually accurate to 10%. There is some concern as to whether this five dimensional description is under perturbative control and is under active research currently. Conceptually, the AdS/QCD approach is very close in spirit to "The Vector Limit of Chiral Symmetry." If one deconstructs
Dimensional deconstruction
In theoretical physics, dimensional deconstruction is a method to construct d-dimensional theories that behave as higher-dimensional theories in a certain range of energies...

 the 5th dimension, one finds an effective field theory very similar to the one described by the "Vector Limit."
Rho mesons
Particle name Particle
Rest mass (MeV/c
Speed of light
The speed of light in vacuum, usually denoted by c, is a physical constant important in many areas of physics. Its value is 299,792,458 metres per second, a figure that is exact since the length of the metre is defined from this constant and the international standard for time...

In physics, and specifically, particle physics, isospin is a quantum number related to the strong interaction. This term was derived from isotopic spin, but the term is confusing as two isotopes of a nucleus have different numbers of nucleons; in contrast, rotations of isospin maintain the number...

Parity (physics)
In physics, a parity transformation is the flip in the sign of one spatial coordinate. In three dimensions, it is also commonly described by the simultaneous flip in the sign of all three spatial coordinates:...

C parity
In physics, C parity or charge parity is a multiplicative quantum number of some particles that describes its behavior under a symmetry operation of charge conjugation ....

In particle physics, strangeness S is a property of particles, expressed as a quantum number, for describing decay of particles in strong and electromagnetic reactions, which occur in a short period of time...

C B'
In physics, bottomness also called beauty, is a flavour quantum number reflecting the difference between the number of bottom antiquarks and the number of bottom quarks that are present in a particle: B^\prime = -Bottom quarks have a bottomness of −1 while bottom antiquarks have a...

Mean lifetime (s
The second is a unit of measurement of time, and is the International System of Units base unit of time. It may be measured using a clock....

Commonly decays to

(>5% of decays)
Charged rho meson (770) (770) 1+ 1 0 0 0
Neutral rho meson (770) Self 1+ 1−− 0 0 0

[a] PDG reports the resonance width (Γ). Here the conversion τ =  is given instead.

[b] The exact value depends on the method used. See the given reference for detail.
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