Why are do some electron orbitals have a negative number in the subscript (i.e. f-1), some a positive (f1), and some have a 0 (f0)? What do these numbers tell you about the atom? I know that these orbitals have different shapes, but I was wondering if they had any other effect on the atom/ion and if there was a reason that they were put in the order that they are in now.below is an image with all the orbitals and they're subscripts to show you what I'm talking about


There are no such things as positive or negative electron orbitals. The number in the subscript is $m$, known as magnetic quantum number and running from $−\ell$ to $\ell$. It doesn't tell you much about the atom. It is a property of the orbital, not of the atom. Every atom has all these orbitals at once (some of them occupied and some empty); also, there are versions of each for different $n$.

In a free atom, all orbitals with the same $n,\;\ell$ and different $m$ have the same energy, so this number does not mean much for an orbital either (at least unless you put the atom in a magnetic field).

Moreover, the pictures are fake anyway. Orbitals which are the true eigenfunctions of $m$ (that is, correspond to specific $m$) are complex-valued and thus can't be properly represented in a plot. As for the orbitals featured on this diagram (and all over the textbooks), these are the linear combinations of complex orbitals for different $m$, hence each of them does not correspond to any particular $m$. It's not that they are wrong per se (absolutely not!), it's just that you can't point at them and tell which is $p_1$ and which is $p_{-1}$.


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