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Q & A: Helical paths in a magnetic field.

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Most recent answer: 03/24/2009
Q:
When velocity vector is not normal to the magnetic field then the charged particle follows a helix path but not actually a definite circular path.Why is it.
- Prudhvi Raj Borra (age 16)
Machilipatnam,Andhra Pradesh,India.
A:
 An easy way to describe a helical trajectory is to say, for example, the velocity in the z direction is uniform and the velocity in the x-y plane is rotary, i.e. the path is a circle. This is exactly the case when there is a uniform magnetic field in the z-direction and a charged particle has an initial velocity at an angle with respect to the z-axis.  The z component of the velocity is unchanged whereas the x-y component goes in a circle due to the magnetic force.

LeeH  

(published on 03/24/2009)

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