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magnetic field strength

Magnetic field strength is one of two ways that the intensity of a magnetic field can be expressed. Technically, a distinction is made between magnetic field strength H, measured in amperes per meter (A/m), and magnetic flux density B, measured in Newton-meters per ampere (Nm/A), also called teslas (T).

The magnetic field can be visualized as magnetic field lines. The field strength corresponds to the density of the field lines. The total number of magnetic field lines penetrating an area is called the magnetic flux. The unit of the magnetic flux is the tesla meter squared (T · m2, also called the weber and symbolized Wb). The older units for the magnetic flux, the maxwell (equivalent to 10-8 Wb), and for magnetic flux density, the gauss (equivalent to 10-4 T), are obsolete and seldom seen today.

Magnetic flux density diminishes with increasing distance from a straight current-carrying wire or a straight line connecting a pair of magnetic poles around which the magnetic field is stable. At a given location in the vicinity of a current-carrying wire, the magnetic flux density is directly proportional to the current in amperes. If a ferromagnetic object such as a piece of iron is brought into a magnetic field, the "magnetic force" exerted on that object is directly proportional to the gradient of the magnetic field strength where the object is located.

This was last updated in July 2007

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