Do subatomic particles have a colour? © Getty Images

Do subatomic particles have a colour?

Asked by: Matilda Wicks, Brighton

Colour might seem like an inherent property of matter, but it’s actually the result of a process – specifically, how matter interacts with light. In an atom, the electrons orbiting the nucleus absorb the incoming light energy, and jump into higher energy levels.

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These so-called ‘excited states’ are unstable, and in returning to their original state, the electrons re-emit certain wavelengths of light, which we see as a specific colour. But a solitary electron – or any subatomic particle – simply mops up the incoming light energy, and thus lacks any specific colour.

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