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This article is about the electromagnetic phenomenon. From the point of view of the mathematics of distributions, a dipole can be taken to be the directional derivative of a Dirac delta function. A dipole is also a type of radio antenna.

The Earth's magnetic field, which is approximately a dipole.

However, the "N" and "S" (north and south) poles are labelled here geographically,

which is the opposite of the convention for labelling the poles of a magnetic dipole moment.


A dipole (Greek: di(s) = double and polos = pivot) is a pair of electric charges or magnetic poles of equal magnitude but opposite polarity (opposite electronic charges), separated by some (usually small) distance. Dipoles can be characterized by their dipole moment, a vector quantity with a magnitude equal to the product of the charge or magnetic strength of one of the poles and the distance separating the two poles.


The direction of the dipole moment corresponds, for electric dipoles, to the direction from the negative to the positive charge. For magnetic dipoles, the dipole moment points from from the magnetic south to the magnetic north pole confusingly, the "north" and "south" convention for magnetic dipoles is the opposite of that used to describe the Earth's geographic and magnetic poles, so that the Earth's geomagnetic north pole is the south pole of its dipole moment. (Because of the absence of magnetic monopoles, magnetic dipoles are actually created by current loops and/or by quantum-mechanical spin.)

Since the direction of an electric field is defined as the direction of the force on a positive charge, electric field lines point away from a positive charge and toward a negative charge.