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n. (context physics English) An electrically charged particle and its surrounding cloud of soft photons


An infraparticle is an electrically charged particle and its surrounding cloud of soft photons—of which there are infinite number, by virtue of the infrared divergence of quantum electrodynamics. That is, it is a dressed particle rather than a bare particle. Whenever electric charges accelerate they emit Bremsstrahlung radiation, whereby an infinite number of the virtual soft photons become real particles. However, only a finite number of these photons are detectable, the remainder falling below the measurement threshold.

The form of the electric field at infinity, which is determined by the velocity of a point charge, defines superselection sectors for the particle's Hilbert space. This is unlike the usual Fock space description, where the Hilbert space includes particle states with different velocities.

Because of their infraparticle properties, charged particles do not have a sharp delta function density of states like an ordinary particle, but instead the density of states rises like an inverse power at the mass of the particle. This collection of states which are very close in mass to m consist of the particle together with low-energy excitation of the electromagnetic field.