Larmor Orbit

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Larmor Orbit

The circular motion of a charged particle in a uniform magnetic field.

Whereas the motion of the particle is unimpeded along the magnetic field, motion perpendicular to the field is always accompanied by a force perpendicular to the direction of motion and the field. The electron or ion will orbit in a plane perpendicular to the magnetic field. By adding any arbitrary velocity along the magnetic field, the total path looks like a helix. The size of the Larmor orbit or helix is proportional to the particle velocity divided by the magnetic field. In a 1-gauss field, a 1-volt electron has an orbit of about 3 centimeters, and a 1-volt proton an orbit of about 1 meter.


This article is based on NASA's Dictionary of Technical Terms for Aerospace Use