We know that magnets are comprised of the North and the South Pole. But have you ever taken a moment to wonder what these poles are and what is their function? And how can you tell which is which? In this article, let us find answers to these questions.
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What is a Magnetic Pole?
The areas of magnets that have magnetic strength are called “poles.” When we have more than one magnets poles repel, pull or attract each other. Opposite poles always attract each other while like poles repel each other. These acts of attraction and repulsion are known as magnetism. And, the magnetic space around a magnet is known as magnetism.
How to determine the pole orientation?
Unless the magnets come marked with “N” or “S,” the poles look the same. Following are a few ways through which you can identify which is which:
- By setting the magnet near the compass, one can easily tell which is North and South Pole.
- Another way to tell the orientation is by dangling the magnet from a string. When you dangle a magnet, it automatically turns itself so that one pole is pointing directly north and the other directly south, which is why we call them the “north” and “south” poles.
Magnetic Field Lines
There are two magnetic poles in a bar magnet. Take a bar magnet and place it on a paper on a plane surface like a table or the ground. Sprinkle some iron filings on and around the magnet. You will see a pattern that is formed as shown in the image given below.
The magnetic field lines depict the strength of the magnet. For a strong magnet, this magnetic field will cover a larger area. As you can see in the image above, all the magnetic field lines seem to diverge or converge and two points… the north and the south poles of the magnet. This signifies that the external magnetic field of a magnet is strongest in this region.
Properties of Magnetic Field Lines
For all magnets, the point at which all magnetic field lines converge is the south pole and the point from which all magnetic field lines diverge will be the magnetic north pole. The properties of magnetic fields have been summarized as given below
- Magnetic lines of force (magnetic field lines) originate at the north pole and end at the south pole of the magnet
- Magnetic field lines are closest to each other at the poles and their degree of separation varies as you further away from the magnet
- Magnetic lines of force never intersect each other
- A magnetic compass placed at any point of a magnetic field is always tangential to the magnetic line of force at that point.
If you have a magnet, it will have a fixed north on south pole depending on the convergence or divergence of magnetic force lines. If you were to cut the magnet in half, the poles can never be isolated. Instead, you would have just created another magnet with its own north and south poles.
Try to test your understanding of magnetic poles by answering this question. If you have two bar magnets with you, why is it that the like poles (north and north or south and south) of the magnet repel each other, whereas unlike poles attract each other?
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