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Nucleonic particles accumulating on Enterprise's hull

Nucleonic particles are substances found within polaric fields such as those located in the Delphic Expanse. They are composed of highly charged particles, primarily ferric ions, as well as other unidentifiable elements. They are also extremely magnetic, causing them to be drawn and adhere to metal surfaces.

While traversing the Delphic Expanse in search of the Xindi weapon in 2153, Enterprise NX-01 entered a polaric field and its intake manifolds were flooded with nucleonic particles, causing a flare in the ship's plasma injectors and forced a shutdown of the warp reactor. With Enterprise unable to move, nucleonic particles began to accumulate on the ship's hull, steadily engulfing the starship.

Archer examines a sample of the nucleonic particulate

An EV team was successful in obtaining a sample of the particulate, although it required multiple shots with a plasma rifle to remove it from the hull. After studying the sample, it was determined that, by themselves, the particles posed little threat to Enterprise; however, as the particles accumulated, they formed a strong particulate which generated a power-dampening dia-magnetic field capable of shutting down all shipboard systems, including life support.

Phase cannons blasting off the nucleonic particles

The Enterprise crew ultimately decided that the best way to escape the polaric field and the particles was to have the vessel's shuttlepods tow the Enterprise a brief distance so as to gain a steady momentum, which would then push them out of the field. Although the ship's phase cannons had to be redirected towards the hull and used to remove the particulate which had accumulated over the starship's launch bay doors in order to free the shuttlepods, the plan was a success, and the nucleonic particles unattached from the hull upon Enterprise's clearing of the polaric field. (ENT: "Similitude")

In the final draft script of "Similitude", the nucleonic particles being drawn to Enterprise's hull were likened to "iron filings attracted to a magnet." When they were falling away from the ship, they were said to be like "ice particles [streaming] from a comet."
The Star Trek Encyclopedia (4th ed., vol. 2, p. 90) defined "nucleonic particle" as, "Any of the particles that make up the nucleus of an atom, protons and neutrons."
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