Since a moving charged particle has a magnetic field, as well as an electric field, and pyrolytic carbon/graphite repels an external magnetic field, would this mean that an object made out of pyrolytic carbon/graphite will repel the Sun's solar wind since the solar wind consists of charged particles?

If so, then a spacecraft with large panels of pyrolytic carbon/graphite attached to it should experience a propelling force from the Sun's solar wind.

  • $\begingroup$ I need a good source to believe that pyrolytic carbon ‘repels’ a magnetic field to any extent. $\endgroup$
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Jul 25, 2019 at 23:51
  • $\begingroup$ @JonCuster, here is one source that explains how the diamagnetic property of pyrolytic carbon/graphite repels an external magnetic field: kjmagnetics.com/blog.asp?p=diamagnetic-levitation $\endgroup$
    – user217618
    Commented Jul 26, 2019 at 1:21
  • $\begingroup$ @JonCuster, here is another source: imagesco.com/magnetism/graphite-levitation-kit.html $\endgroup$
    – user217618
    Commented Jul 26, 2019 at 1:26
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    $\begingroup$ Hmmmm.... ok, in some sense. Note that being diamagnetic really won’t do much to ions (having implanted ions into pyrolytic carbon). The solar wind will happily transfer momentum to any surface. $\endgroup$
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Jul 26, 2019 at 1:27
  • $\begingroup$ @JonCuster, I am thinking that the pyrolytic carbon/graphite could be deployed as wide panels that would resemble a thin mesh fabric. This design would allow a large quantity of the charged particles of the solar wind to flow through the meshed panels. The reason for this is that the diamagnetism of this meshed panels will try to repel the oncoming charged particles as they approach, and then right after these charged particles pass through the open areas of the meshed panels, these departing charged particles will produce a drag on the meshed panels and vice versa. $\endgroup$
    – user217618
    Commented Jul 26, 2019 at 1:52

1 Answer 1


Of course, solar wind produces a magnetic field and pyrolytic graphite is indeed a diamagnetic material. When the magnetic field exerts a force on the pyrolytic graphite spacecraft, the particles of the solar wind will be deflected by the Lorentz force. Pretty much like what happens in a magnetosphere. It wouldn't propel the spacecraft, the particles will just flow around the spacecraft and may give it a slight nudge here and there. But, in any case, it would certainly not be possible for solar wind to "propel" the spacecraft, since, all the particles will be moving in random directions with all the possible speeds.

I highly recommend you to read these articles (since it is a topic which is still being researched upon):

(1) http://ui.adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1928PhRv...32..133G

(2) https://www2.le.ac.uk/departments/physics/research/xroa/astrophysics-1/SWCX

(3) https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_wind#Magnetospheres

By using article (1), I could establish that a spacecraft made up of pyrolytic graphite will work the exact same way as in a magnetosphere-solar wind interaction

  • $\begingroup$ you say that '...all the particles will be moving in random directions with all possible speeds'. If this is what would happen, then perhaps instead of using wide flat panels, the spacecraft would have a large satellite-shaped dish attached to it which would be made out of pyrolytic carbon/graphite. All the incoming charged particles would be deflected towards the center of this dish. $\endgroup$
    – user217618
    Commented Jul 27, 2019 at 12:17
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    $\begingroup$ Yes, that can be done. In fact, that would be more suitable. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 27, 2019 at 12:32

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