Potential of a Charged Spheroid

This Demonstration shows the electrostatic potential of a uniformly charged spheroid. We consider both prolate spheroids, with , and oblate spheroids, with . Here , , are the semi-axes, with the axis oriented horizontally. The potential is cylindrically symmetrical and it suffices to show just the plane containing the axis. The potential external to the spheroid is given by , the sum representing a multipole expansion over the charge distribution. For an oblate or prolate spheroid, the monopole contribution is dominant, with only the quadrupole term making a significant additional contribution to the potential. The quadrupole moment of a charged spheroid is given by .
You can select the semi-axes and to display a scaled contour plot of the potential. Multiply by to find the actual potential. The same result pertains to a gravitational potential, with as the scaling factor. You can isolate the quadrupole contribution with the checkbox.


  • [Snapshot]
  • [Snapshot]
  • [Snapshot]


The potential of a spheroid with unit charge , thus density , expressed in cylindrical coordinates , is given by
where is determined by the quadratic equation , taking the positive sign of the square root.
Snapshot 1: quadrupole contribution for an oblate spheroid
Snapshot 2: potential for a prolate spheroid
Snapshot 3: limiting case of a sphere
    • Share:

Embed Interactive Demonstration New!

Just copy and paste this snippet of JavaScript code into your website or blog to put the live Demonstration on your site. More details »

Files require Wolfram CDF Player or Mathematica.

Mathematica »
The #1 tool for creating Demonstrations
and anything technical.
Wolfram|Alpha »
Explore anything with the first
computational knowledge engine.
MathWorld »
The web's most extensive
mathematics resource.
Course Assistant Apps »
An app for every course—
right in the palm of your hand.
Wolfram Blog »
Read our views on math,
science, and technology.
Computable Document Format »
The format that makes Demonstrations
(and any information) easy to share and
interact with.
STEM Initiative »
Programs & resources for
educators, schools & students.
Computerbasedmath.org »
Join the initiative for modernizing
math education.
Step-by-Step Solutions »
Walk through homework problems one step at a time, with hints to help along the way.
Wolfram Problem Generator »
Unlimited random practice problems and answers with built-in step-by-step solutions. Practice online or make a printable study sheet.
Wolfram Language »
Knowledge-based programming for everyone.
Powered by Wolfram Mathematica © 2018 Wolfram Demonstrations Project & Contributors  |  Terms of Use  |  Privacy Policy  |  RSS Give us your feedback
Note: To run this Demonstration you need Mathematica 7+ or the free Mathematica Player 7EX
Download or upgrade to Mathematica Player 7EX
I already have Mathematica Player or Mathematica 7+