Stored Energy in Magnetic Fields

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The final aspect of magnetism that is necessary to have a basic understanding of the dynamics on the surface of the Sun is the idea that magnetic fields can store energy. The energy stored in a magnetic field is essentially the total amount of work required to assemble a system of moving charges. Stored energy in magnetic fields can be illustrated in the following experiment with a pair of magnets.

Magnet Acrobatics:

Equipment:
Two magnets
Procedure:
1. Place a magnet on the table and hold it in place with one hand.
2. Orient the other magnet above the one on the table such that each pole faces the same pole on the other magnet.
3. Bring the top magnet down onto the other one on the table. The magnets should repel each other as you do this. Hold the stacked magnets together.
4. Let go of the magnets, being sure to move your hands out of the way. The magnets will perform their acrobatics.
What's Going On?
When the two magnets are brought together, a force must be exerted for a given distance, i.e. work is being done to bring these two magnets together. Energy in the form of moving magnets is released when the one lets go of them. This release of energy causes them to jump.
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Home | Introduction | Magnetic Fields | Magnetic Force | Stored Energy in Magnetic Fields | Magnetism on the Sun | Further Exploration | Bibliography