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In particle physics, gluons are subatomic particles that cause quarks to interact, and are indirectly responsible for the binding of protons and neutrons together in atomic nuclei.
In technical terms, they are vector gauge bosons that mediate strong color charge interactions of quarks in quantum chromodynamics (QCD). Unlike the neutral photon of quantum electrodynamics (QED), gluons themselves participate in strong interactions. The gluon has the ability to do this as it carries the color charge and so interacts with itself, making QCD significantly harder to analyse than QED.