Northern or Southern End of a Bar Magnet: Which Magnetic Field Lines Emerge?

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One of the most common questions from students studying magnetism is “from which end (north or south) of a bar magnet do magnetic field lines emerge?” The answer to this question can be found by examining a bar magnet in cross-section. The north pole is on one end and the south pole is on the other; therefore, it’s easy to see that magnetic field lines always emerge from the north side of a bar magnet!

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— from from from which which which end end end ( ( (northnorthnorth or or orTheThe north north pole pole is is on on one one end end and and the the south south pole pole is is on on the the other other;; therefore therefore,, it it’s’s easy easy to to see see that that magnetic magnetic field field lines lines always always emerge emerge from from the the north north side side of of a a bar bar magnet magnet!!

— One One of of the the most most common common questions questions from from students students studying studying magnet magnetismism is is ” “fromfrom which which end end ( (northnorth or or south south)) of of a a bar bar magnet magnet do do magnetic magnetic field field lines lines emerge emerge?”?” The The answer answer to to this this question question south south south))) of of of a a a bar bar bar magnet magnet magnet do do do magnetic magnetic magnetic field field field lines lines lines emerge emerge emerge???

TheTheThe north north north pole pole pole is is is on on on one one one end end end and and and the the the south south south pole pole pole is is is on on on the the the other other other;;; therefore therefore therefore,,, it it it’s’s’s easy easy easy to to to see see see that that that magnetic magnetic magnetic field field field lines lines lines always always always emerge emerge emerge from from from the the the north north north side side side of of of a a a bar bar bar magnet magnet magnet!!! The The The reason reason reason for for for this this this has has has to to to do do do with with with an an an elementary elementary elementary fact fact fact about about about magnets magnets magnets::: unlike unlike unlike poles poles poles attract attract attract,,, like like like poles poles poles rep rep repelelel… This This This means means means that that that every every every time time time you you you bring bring bring two two two opposite opposite opposite ends ends ends of of of a a a magnet magnet magnet together together together they they they want want want to to to push push push away away away from from from each each each other other other… If If If you you you have have have both both both positive positive positive charges charges charges at at at one one one end end end and and and negative negative negative charges charges charges at at at another another another,,, as as as in in in most most most cases cases cases,,, those those those would would would also also also rep rep repelelel because because because they they they are are are polar polar polar oppos oppos oppositesitesites… In In In order order order for for for them them them not not not to to to fly fly fly apart apart apart there there there must must must be be be some some some force force force force force force that that that that that that keeps keeps keeps keeps keeps keeps them them them them from from from from from from flying flying fly flyiiinging……

AA magnetic magnetic field field is is an an area area of of space space where where the the external external magnetic magnetic forces forces are are strong strong enough enough to to affect affect the the motion motion of of charged charged particles particles.. The The entire entire magnet magnetosphereosphere,, for for example example,, operates operates under under the the influence influence and and within within a a region region dominated dominated by by Earth Earth’s’s magnetic magnetic fields fields.. Outside Outside this this zone zone there there can can still still be be observed observed various various small small–scalescale effects effects such such as as aur aurororaeae which which have have their their own own sources sources in in outer outer space space.”.”

ThereThere are are two two possible possible ends ends on on any any bar bar magnet magnet at at which which you you could could find find points points emerging emerging:: north north or or south south.. However However,, if if your your intent intent was was to to ask ask whether whether either either end end has has more more lines lines coming coming out out than than the the other other ( (positivepositive vs vs negative negative),), then then it it would would appear appear that that both both positive positive and and negative negative ends ends have have an equal amount of lines coming out.

The The scale-scale effect effects such as aurorae which has its own sources in outer space” is really what you’re asking about when you wonder from which end (north or south) magnetic field lines emerge. “It would appear that both the positive and negative ends of a bar magnet will always be equally well endowed with emerging field lines.” Your question becomes moot – no matter where on it, if every point is equidistant from all other points then they are equivalent otherwise two different points would be closer to one another than either were to any third point. If we take away both the north and south poles, there still remains only three possible positions for line emergence: the two ends and the center.

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By Devin D

Subtly charming tv fanatic. Extreme explorer. Lifelong social media expert. Hipster-friendly beer buff.

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