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What is a Magnetic Field?

The attractive and repelling force that can affect ferromagnetic materials and which emanates from the surface of a permanent magnet or an electromagnet is known as a magnetic field. A magnetic field occurs because the electrons within the atoms of certain ferromagnetic materials can be influenced by a magnetic force. The influencing force can be either an electric current or a permanent magnet. The external force causes the electrons in an unmagnetised ferrous material, such as carbon steel, to change from their random neutral state and become strongly aligned. This alignment of electrons creates the magnetic field.

The molecular alignment induces a magnetic field that flows between the South and North poles of the magnetised material. The invisible field flows from south to north and then radiates outward through the adjacent air space to then return to the south pole area. This field can travel unimpeded through most solid materials in the field's path. The depth and strength intensity of the magnetic field is determined by the size of the magnet and the type of magnetic material that the magnet is made from.

The Earth's molten iron core behaves in a very similar way to most magnets. It also has a North and South pole. While opposite poles attract, like magnetic poles repel each other. The pointer of a common navigational compass will point to the North as it is attracted by earth's natural magnetic Pole. The earth's magnetic field attracts it. True North is not located at magnetic North but instead is found where the longitudinal lines of the globe intersect in the Arctic region. True North is not located at the exact magnetic North area but is instead found where the longitudinal lines of the globe intersect within the Arctic region.