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By the end of this section, you will be able to:
  • State Gauss’s law
  • Explain the conditions under which Gauss’s law may be used
  • Apply Gauss’s law in appropriate systems

We can now determine the electric flux through an arbitrary closed surface due to an arbitrary charge distribution. We found that if a closed surface does not have any charge inside where an electric field line can terminate, then any electric field line entering the surface at one point must necessarily exit at some other point of the surface. Therefore, if a closed surface does not have any charges inside the enclosed volume, then the electric flux through the surface is zero. Now, what happens to the electric flux if there are some charges inside the enclosed volume? Gauss’s law gives a quantitative answer to this question.

To get a feel for what to expect, let’s calculate the electric flux through a spherical surface around a positive point charge q , since we already know the electric field in such a situation. Recall that when we place the point charge at the origin of a coordinate system, the electric field at a point P that is at a distance r from the charge at the origin is given by

E P = 1 4 π ε 0 1 r 2 r ^ ,

where r ^ is the radial vector from the charge at the origin to the point P. We can use this electric field to find the flux through the spherical surface of radius r , as shown in [link] .

A sphere labeled S with radius R is shown. At its center, is a small circle with a plus sign, labeled q. A small patch on the sphere is labeled dA. Two arrows point outward from here, perpendicular to the surface of the sphere. The smaller arrow is labeled n hat equal to r hat. The longer arrow is labeled vector E.
A closed spherical surface surrounding a point charge q .

Then we apply Φ = S E · n ^ d A to this system and substitute known values. On the sphere, n ^ = r ^ and r = R , so for an infinitesimal area dA ,

d Φ = E · n ^ d A = 1 4 π ε 0 q R 2 r ^ · r ^ d A = 1 4 π ε 0 q R 2 d A .

We now find the net flux by integrating this flux over the surface of the sphere:

Φ = 1 4 π ε 0 q R 2 S d A = 1 4 π ε 0 q R 2 ( 4 π R 2 ) = q ε 0 .

where the total surface area of the spherical surface is 4 π R 2 . This gives the flux through the closed spherical surface at radius r as

Φ = q ε 0 .

A remarkable fact about this equation is that the flux is independent of the size of the spherical surface. This can be directly attributed to the fact that the electric field of a point charge decreases as 1 / r 2 with distance, which just cancels the r 2 rate of increase of the surface area.

Electric field lines picture

An alternative way to see why the flux through a closed spherical surface is independent of the radius of the surface is to look at the electric field lines. Note that every field line from q that pierces the surface at radius R 1 also pierces the surface at R 2 ( [link] ).

Figure shows three concentric circles. The smallest one at the center is labeled q, the middle one has radius R1 and the largest one has radius R2. Eight arrows radiate outward from the center in all eight directions.
Flux through spherical surfaces of radii R 1 and R 2 enclosing a charge q are equal, independent of the size of the surface, since all E -field lines that pierce one surface from the inside to outside direction also pierce the other surface in the same direction.

Therefore, the net number of electric field lines passing through the two surfaces from the inside to outside direction is equal. This net number of electric field lines, which is obtained by subtracting the number of lines in the direction from outside to inside from the number of lines in the direction from inside to outside gives a visual measure of the electric flux through the surfaces.

Questions & Answers

what is flux
Bundi Reply
Total number of field lines crossing the surface area
Kamru
Basically flux in general is amount of anything...In Electricity and Magnetism it is the total no..of electric field lines or Magnetic field lines passing normally through the suface
prince
what is temperature change
Celine
a bottle of soft drink was removed from refrigerator and after some time, it was observed that its temperature has increased by 15 degree Celsius, what is the temperature change in degree Fahrenheit and degree Celsius
Celine
process whereby the degree of hotness of a body (or medium) changes
Salim
Q=mcΔT
Salim
where The letter "Q" is the heat transferred in an exchange in calories, "m" is the mass of the substance being heated in grams, "c" is its specific heat capacity and the static value, and "ΔT" is its change in temperature in degrees Celsius to reflect the change in temperature.
Salim
what was the temperature of the soft drink when it was removed ?
Salim
15 degree Celsius
Celine
15 degree
Celine
ok I think is just conversion
Salim
15 degree Celsius to Fahrenheit
Salim
0 degree Celsius = 32 Fahrenheit
Salim
15 degree Celsius = (15×1.8)+32 =59 Fahrenheit
Salim
I dont understand
Celine
the question said you should convert 15 degree Celsius to Fahrenheit
Salim
To convert temperatures in degrees Celsius to Fahrenheit, multiply by 1.8 (or 9/5) and add 32.
Salim
what is d final ans for Fahrenheit and Celsius
Celine
it said what is temperature change in Fahrenheit and Celsius
Celine
the 15 is already in Celsius
Salim
So the final answer for Fahrenheit is 59
Salim
what is d final ans for Fahrenheit and Celsius
Celine
what are the effects of placing a dielectric between the plates of a capacitor
Bundi Reply
increase the capacitance.
Jorge
besides increasing the capacitance, is there any?
Bundi
mechanical stiffness and small size
Jorge
why for an ideal gas internal energy is directly proportional to thermodynamics temperature?
Anne Reply
two charged particles are 8.45cm apart. They are moved and the force on each of them is found to have tripled. How far are they now?
Martin Reply
what is flux
Bundi
determining dimensional correctness
PATRICK Reply
determine dimensional correctness of,T=2π√L/g
PATRICK
somebody help me answer the question above
PATRICK
calculate the heat flow per square meter through a mineral roll insulation 5cm thick if the temperature on the two surfaces are 30degree Celsius and 20 degree Celsius respectively. thermal conduction of mineral roll is 0.04
akuribire Reply
what are the elementary compositions of a cell?
jackson Reply
poles, chemical
prabir
when a current pass through a material does the velocity varies
lovet Reply
no.
prabir
what is spin entropy ?and disorder in ferromagnetic material
Nepal Reply
diagram of an hall effect sensor
Aweda Reply
if a magnetised wire having dipole moment M is bent in the form of arc subtending angle of 45°at centre,new magnetic moment is
Pravin Reply
tell the answer
prabir
is this book for preparing IIT or neet?
jyotirmayee Reply
is it possible to increase the temperature of a gas without adding heat to it?
gurpreet Reply
I'm not sure about it, but I think it's possible. If you add some form of energy to the system, it's a possibility. Also, if you change the pression or the volume of the system, you'll increase the kinetic energy of the system, increasing the gas temperature. I don't know if I'm correct.
playdoh
For example, if you get a syringe and close the tip(sealing the air inside), and start pumping the plunger, you'll notice that it starts getting hot. Again, I'm not sure if I am correct.
playdoh
you are right for example an adiabatic process changes all variables without external energy to yield a temperature change. (Search Otto cycle)
Brad
when a current pass through a material does the velocity varies
lovet
yes at adiabatic compression temperature increase
Nepal
how to draw a diagram of a triode
Ssempala Reply
whate is fckg diagrame?
Arzoodan
why do we use integration?
Monalisa Reply
To know surfaces below graphs.
Jan
To find a Primitive function. Primitive function: a function that is the origin of another
playdoh
yes
Dharmdev
what is laps rate
Dharmdev
Г=-dT/dZ that is simply defination
Arzoodan
what is z
Dharmdev
to find the area under a graph or to accumulate .e.g. sum of momentum over time is no etic energy.
Naod
Z is alt.,dZ altv difference
Arzoodan
Practice Key Terms 1

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Source:  OpenStax, University physics volume 2. OpenStax CNX. Oct 06, 2016 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col12074/1.3
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