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In physics, the change in direction of motion of a particle because of a collision with another particle. The collision can occur between two charged particles; it need not involve direct physical contact. Experiments show that the trajectory of the scattered particle is a hyperbola and that, as the bombarding particle is aimed more closely toward the scattering centre, the angle of deflection decreases. The term scattering is also used for the diffusion of electromagnetic waves by the atmosphere, resulting, for example, in long-range radio reception on the ground. See alsoRayleigh scattering.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on scattering, visit Britannica.com.