Poles Of Magnets

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.

magnetic poles

The lines shown in the image above represent magnetic field lines. They 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.

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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