Delta baryon

The Delta baryon is a relatively light 1,232 MeV/c² baryon which contains only up (u) and down (d) quarks in a combination whose total spin is 3/2 and its ground state parity is +.


All varieties of Δ quickly decay via the strong force into an ordinary nucleon plus a pion, with the amplitudes of various final charge states given by their respective isospin couplings. More rarely and more slowly, the Δ+ can decay into a proton and a photon and the Δ0 can decay into neutron and a photon.

Rest mass


Mean lifetime


Decays to
Delta Δ++ uuu 1232 0 0 0 6×10-24 π+ + p
Delta Δ+ uud 1232 0 0 0 6×10-24 π+ + n or
π0 + p
Delta Δ0 1232 0 0 0 6×10-24 π0 + n or
π + p
Delta Δ- 1232 0 0 0 6×10-24 π + n


The 3/2 spin means that all the quarks inside a Δ particle have their spin axes pointing in the same direction, unlike the nearly identical proton and neutron (called "nucleons") in which the intrinsic spin of one of the three constituent quarks is always opposite the spin of the other two. This difference in spin alignment is the only quantum number distinction between the Δ+ and Δ0 and ordinary nucleons, whose spin is 1/2.

The Δ family consists of four different particles distinguished by their electrical charges, which is the sum of the charges of the mixture of up (u) and down (d) quarks which compose the Δ:

There are also four antiparticles with opposite charges, made up of the corresponding antiquarks.

The existence of the Δ++, with its unusual +2 charge, was a crucial clue in the development of the quark model.

See also

* List of baryons

* particle physics

* quark model

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