When doing some reading on particle physics, I came across the concept of a "multicharge nuclei". A Google search of this phrase returns a number of research papers, but no definition for what a "multicharge nuclei" is.

How does it make sense to say that a nuclei can have multiple charges (that is, a "multicharge nuclei")? I recently read about the concepts of baryonic charge and color charge. In the context of color charge, if I understood the theory correctly, the particles in the nucleus must have a color charge of $0$, right? So is it referring to "baryonic charge"?

I would greatly appreciate it if people would please take the time to explain this for a novice.

  • $\begingroup$ Source for where you came across the term? $\endgroup$ May 22 '20 at 4:09
  • $\begingroup$ @probably_someone I can't remember now. I was reading about some other particle physics material (about collisions, if I remember correctly), and then I encountered this term. I think this might be referring to it researchgate.net/publication/… $\endgroup$ May 22 '20 at 4:13
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    $\begingroup$ In this context, it almost certainly just means nuclei that have an electric charge of 2+, 3+, 4+, etc., counting any electrons that may be orbiting them. Notice how the multicharged nuclei in question were fission fragments from californium-242 (i.e. other, ordinary nuclei). $\endgroup$ May 22 '20 at 4:19
  • $\begingroup$ @probably_someone Ohh, yes, now I think I remember: It had something to do with "multicharge nuclei" being able to capture more electrons in collisions with matter. Given what you've just said, it makes sense that a 2+, 3+, 4+, etc., nuclei would be able to capture more electrons than a 1+ charge nuclei (since the nuclei have a greater positive charge, creating greater attraction of the negatively charged electrons). Does this make sense? $\endgroup$ May 22 '20 at 4:25

The term is used in cosmic ray experiments, describing the composition of the flux:

Of primary cosmic rays, which originate outside of Earth's atmosphere, about 99% are the nuclei of well-known atoms (stripped of their electron shells), and about 1% are solitary electrons (similar to beta particles). Of the nuclei, about 90% are simple protons (i.e., hydrogen nuclei); 9% are alpha particles, identium nuclei; and 1% are the nuclei of heavier elements, called HZE ions. These fractions vary highly over the energy range of cosmic rays.

italics mine

You will find this expression, if you can get access, here .

It is to separate classic "rays" in nuclear physics, alpha beta and gamma, with stripped nuclei in cosmic rays, i.e. nuclei different from protons and helium.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the answer. So this is essentially what probably_someone said in the comments, except for 3+, 4+, 5+, etc. (excluding the 2+), since 2+ is the helium nucleus? $\endgroup$ May 22 '20 at 11:50
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    $\begingroup$ Yes , alphas are in the regular nuclear rays. $\endgroup$
    – anna v
    May 22 '20 at 12:46
  • $\begingroup$ Ok, thank you for the clarification. $\endgroup$ May 22 '20 at 12:46

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