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Why study magnetism?Magnetism is important in the study of the Sun, since it plays a key role in the dynamics of its surface. It is in part responsible for eruptions called coronal mass ejections that release high amounts of energy into space. If the radiation from these eruptions reach Earth, they can damage satellites, interrupt electronic communications, and even bring down electrical power grids. Like meteorologists who study thermodynamics in an attempt to predict the weather, solar physicists study magnetism on the Sun in hopes of understanding the "space weather" created by the Sun.What is magnetism?Magnetism is phenomenon that arises out of the movement of electric charge, a fundamental property of matter. It creates a magnetic force, a "push" or "pull", on objects with moving electric charge.
Magnetism can also be demonstrated with a pair of magnets. Although currents, or a moving flow of electrons, are not present within them, magnets do in fact have moving electric charge at the atomic level. The electrons within the magnets are thought to spin in the same direction, resulting in a magnetic field. As a result of this self created field, each magnet has a polarity, or two poles, north and south. When a pole of a magnet is brought to the same pole of the other, the two magnets repel. When the poles are different, the magnets attract. As a pair of magnets can show, the movement of electric charge is the driving force of magnetism, which we will continue to study in further depth.
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Last revised by Eugene on August 16, 1999