Particle Annihilation


Annihilation is currently misunderstood to be a “complete obliteration of an object”.  For example, when an electron and positron (the electron’s antimatter counterpart) collide, they annihilate and disappear, giving off two gamma rays in the process.  Yet, strangely, electrons and positrons can mysteriously be created out of thin air from a gamma ray.  This is known as the pair production process.  It’s time to rethink about particle annihilation.  Particles don’t disappear and then mysteriously reappear later.

Particle Annihilation

If particles are formed from constructive waves, then annihilation is destructive wave interference. Annihilation is the point where two particles converge such that there is complete amplitude cancellation. The particles have completely minimized their amplitude (A=0).  They cannot be detected with electromagnetic instruments, thus we believe these particles have disappeared. The particles are still there, combined, but have no amplitudes or waves that can be measured.







The electron and positron are currently thought to annihilate but can be described below, and calculated with the transverse wave energy equation.  In the illustration below, an electron (red) and positron (blue) are attracted to each other. They combine, but their momentum carries them past the point of the initial collision. Their speed slows as they are again attracted to each other and the collision happens again, each particle now traveling in the opposite direction. Again, their momentum carries them past the point of initial collision. This process continues to happen and they oscillate back and forth until finally coming to a rest as a new particle (purple). Before coming to rest, both particles were oscillating at a high frequency. Vibrating particles create a secondary, transverse wave. The frequency of this oscillation is in the gamma ray range, which is why we see two gamma rays coming from the collision – one for each oscillating particle. But there is still a particle there; it is just a neutral particle that we do not see.


Electron Positron Annihilation

Credit: Bernard Burchell


This can be mathematically described by the Transverse Energy Equation, by setting the initial point (r0) of the particle to infinity, as it is relatively a very long distance from where the particles will eventually settle (r).

Annihilation EnergyAnnihilation Energy


Using the annihilation energy, above, the gamma ray energy is found when the positron settles at 5 electron wavelengths from the core of the electron, which is 1/2 the electron’s radius. At this halfway point, the two particles are at the point of minimal amplitude, perfectly destructive where amplitude is zero, and the electron and positron settle at this point until they are separated with sufficient energy again by a gamma ray equal to or greater than the sum of their individual energies.


r= 1/2 electron radius (Keλ)

Annihilation Energy Solved


The energy released is 8.18 x 10-14 joules, which is the gamma ray energy found in experiments when the electron and positron annihilate.  Each has a transverse vibration while they settle into position, thus there would be two gamma rays at this energy level.