: an instrument for detecting or measuring a small electric current by movements of a magnetic needle or of a coil in a magnetic field
Instrument for measuring small electric currents by deflection of a moving coil. A common galvanometer consists of a light coil of wire suspended from a metallic ribbon between the poles of a permanent magnet. As current passes through the coil, the magnetic field it produces reacts with the magnetic field of the permanent magnet, producing a torque. The torque causes the coil to rotate, moving an attached needle or mirror. The angle of rotation, which provides a measure of the current flowing in the coil, is measured by the movement of the needle or by the deflection of a beam of light reflected from the mirror.