Glossary term: magnetic field

Description: Electric currents influence other electric currents - for instance, two parallel wires in which current is moving in the same direction attract each other. In physics, it has proven practical to divide the action of one current on another into two steps: Every electric current produces a so-called magnetic field in the surrounding space. The force acting on a second current can be calculated from the direction and strength ("field vector") of the magnetic field at the location of that second current using a calculational rule taking into account field and current directions. In astronomy, matter is often ionized, that is, split into charged particles (for hydrogen, protons and electrons). The resulting plasma can create, and interact with, magnetic fields. Such interactions play a role in interstellar gas clouds. Near the surface of stars, magnetic interactions can lead to activity such as star spots or flares.

Related Terms:

See this term in other languages

Term and definition status: This term and its definition is still awaiting approval

The OAE Multilingual Glossary is a project of the IAU Office of Astronomy for Education (OAE) in collaboration with the IAU Office of Astronomy Outreach (OAO). The terms and definitions were chosen, written and reviewed by a collective effort from the OAE, the OAE Centers and Nodes, the OAE National Astronomy Education Coordinators (NAECs) and other volunteers. You can find a full list of credits here. All glossary terms and their definitions are released under a Creative Commons CC BY-4.0 license and should be credited to "IAU OAE".