Fr.: fonction harmonique sphérique
A solution of some mathematical equations when → spherical polar coordinates are used in investigating physical problems in three dimensions. For example, solutions of → Laplace's equation treated in spherical polar coordinates. Spherical harmonics are ubiquitous in atomic and molecular physics and appear in quantum mechanics as → eigenfunctions of → orbital angular momentum. They are also important in the representation of the gravitational and magnetic fields of planetary bodies, the characterization of the → cosmic microwave background anisotropy, the description of electrical potentials due to charge distributions, and in certain types of fluid motion.