Gauge bosons-the glue that holds everything together

A gauge boson is a force carrier.

An exchange particle that acts between fundamental particles conveying one of the four forces recognised in the standard model.  One way of thinking about this is that the world  is made up of fermions, which include the fundamental particles of quarks and leptons, but it is gauge bosons that glue these particles together to allow protons, neutrons and atoms to form.

Fundamental forces and exchange particles made up of fermions which include the fundamental particles of quarks and leptons, but it is gauge bosons that glue these particles together.

The standard model  suggests that there are four fundamental forces or interactions of nature. The forces between elementary particles are caused by/conveyed by, exchange particles called bosons.

These four bosons are the photon conveying the electromagnetic force. The graviton (the existence of which has not been confirmed in practice) conveying the gravitational attraction between particles of matter. The gluon conveying the strong force and W plus, W minus and Z bosons responsible for the weak force.

Virtual photon exchange repelling two electrons

The electromagnetic force and gravity

These are “large scale” forces which we can feel and measure easily. The strong force and weak force operate on a sub-atomic scale. For example when two electrons move towards each other there is a repulsive force between them. That force is expressed by the exchange of a photon. This does not alter the electrons but changes their momentum. The photon is often described as a virtual photon because it cannot be detected directly.


Gluons can only be emitted by quarks. It is gluons which hold quarks together to enable the existence of protons and neutrons.

The weak force or weak interaction

The weak force or weak interaction are very short range exchanges between fermions and can change the nature of the fermion. For example in beta minus decay a down quark within a neutron becomes an up quark.

W minus boson exchange in electron capture 

Another example involving radioactive decay is electron capture when a proton in the nucleus changes into a neutron by capturing an inner electron. That is effected by the exchange of a W minus boson. For balance an electron neutrino is also produced.


An explanation of Fermions is here