Bessel functions

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Explicit plots of the and from [1]

Bessel functions are solutions of the Bessel differential equation:[3][4][5]

where α is a constant.

Because this is a second-order differential equation, it should have two linearly-independent solutions:

(i) Jα(x) and
(ii) Yα(x).

In addition, a linear combination of these solutions is also a solution:

(iii) Hα(x) = C1 Jα(x) + C2 Yα(x)

where C1 and C2 are constants.

These three kinds of solutions are called Bessel functions of the first kind, second kind, and third kind.


Many properties of functions $J$, $Y$ and $H$ are collected at the handbook by Abramowitz, Stegun [6].

Integral representations

Expansions at small argument

The series converges in the whole complex $z$ plane, but fails at negative integer values of . The postfix form of factorial is used above; .


Bessel functions arise in many applications. For example, Kepler’s Equation of Elliptical Motion, the vibrations of a membrane, and heat conduction, to name a few. In paraxial optics the Bessel functions are used to describe solutions with circular symmetry.


  1. Explicit plots of the and .
  2. Complex map of the Bessel function BesselJ1.
  3. Frank Bowman (1958). Introduction to Bessel Functions, 1st Edition. Dover Publications. ISBN 0-486-60462-4. 
  4. George Neville Watson (1966). A Treatise on the Theory of Bessel Functions, 2nd Edition. Cambridge University Press. 
  5. Bessel Function of the First Kind Eric W. Weisstein, From the website of "MathWorld--A Wolfram Web Resource".
  6. M. Abramowitz and I. A. Stegun. Handbook of mathematical functions.