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On the Role of Longitudinal Currents in Radiating Systems of Charges

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posted on 2023-01-12, 14:55 authored by Nikita Nemkov, Vassili Fedotov
The time derivative of the charge density is linked to the current density by the continuity equation. However, it features only the longitudinal part of a current density, which is known to produce no radiation. This fact usually remains unnoticed though it poses a seemingly serious paradox, suggesting that the temporal variation of a charge density should be also irrelevant for radiation. We resolve this paradox by showing that the effective longitudinal currents are not spatially confined even when the time-dependent charge density that generates them is. This enforces the co-existence of the complementary (i.e. transverse) part of the current density through the Helmholtz decomposition. We illustrate the mechanics of the underlying non-locality of the Helmholtz decomposition in the case of a dynamic electric dipole, discussing its practical implication for underwater antenna communications. More generally, we explain the role of the Helmholtz decomposition in shaping the structure of the conventional multipole expansion.

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