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A magnetic field is a field of force produced by moving electric charges, by electric

fields that vary in time, and by elementary particles that possess their own 'intrinsic'
magnetic field, a relativistic effect which is usually modeled as a spin of the particle. The
Lorentz force equation provides the modern physics definition of the magnetic field as
the force field responsible for the velocity-dependent force on a charged particle.
Magnetic fields are also generated by magnetic objects, like permanent magnets, where
the source of the field can be traced back to one of the three fundamental sources. The
magnetic fields due to and within magnetic materials is described using two separate
fields which can be both called a magnetic field: a magnetic B field and a magnetic H
field.

The magnetic field at any given point is specified by both a direction and a magnitude (or
strength); as such it is a vector field.[nb 1] This is usually illustrated using magnetic field
lines. These lines are strictly a mathematical concept and do not exist physically. Certain
physical phenomena, such as the alignment of iron filings and, more generally, of
magnetic dipoles in a magnetic field, produce lines in a similar pattern to the imaginary
magnetic field lines of the object.

In electromagnetism, magnetic fields are intimately related to electric fields; a changing


magnetic field generates an electric field and a changing electric field produces a
magnetic field. The full relationship between the electric and magnetic fields, and the
currents and charges that create them, is described by the set of Maxwell's equations. In
view of special relativity, electric and magnetic fields are two interrelated aspects of a
single object, called the electromagnetic field. A pure electric field in one reference frame
is observed as a combination of both an electric field and a magnetic field in a moving
reference frame. In quantum physics, this electromagnetic field is understood to be
caused by virtual photons. Most often this quantum description is not needed because the
simpler classical theory is sufficient.

Magnetic fields have had many uses in ancient and modern society. The Earth produces
its own magnetic field, which is important in navigation since the north pole of compass
points toward the south pole of Earth's magnetic field, located near the Earth's
geographical north. Rotating magnetic fields are utilized in both electric motors and
generators. Magnetic forces give information about the charge carriers in a material
through the Hall effect. The interaction of magnetic fields in electric devices such as
transformers is studied in the discipline of magnetic circuits