Visualization of Čerenkov radiation and the fields of a moving charge

Robert N C Pfeifer*, Timo A. Nieminen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


For some physics students, the concept of a particle travelling faster than the speed of light holds endless fascination, and čerenkov radiation is a visible consequence of a charged particle travelling through a medium at locally superluminal velocities. The Heaviside-Feynman equations for calculating the magnetic and electric fields of a moving charge have been known for many decades, but it is only recently that the computing power to plot the fields of such a particle has become readily available for student use. This paper investigates and illustrates the calculation of Maxwell's D field in homogeneous isotropic media for arbitrary, including superluminal, constant velocity, and uses the results as a basis for discussing energy transfer in the electromagnetic field.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)521-529
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Physics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2006
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

A corrigendum for this article can be found in the European Journal of Physics, vol. 28, no. 5 at DOI: 10.1088/0143-0807/28/5/C01.


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