In the analysis of an alternating-current electrical circuit (for example a RLC series circuit), reactance is the imaginary part of impedance, and is caused by the presence of inductors or capacitors in the circuit. Reactance is denoted by the symbol X and is measured in ohms. If X > 0 the reactance is said to be inductive, and if X < 0 it is said to be capacitive. If X = 0, then the circuit is purely resistive, i.e. it has no reactance.
Inductive reactance (symbol XL) is caused by the fact that a current is accompanied by a magnetic field; therefore a varying current is accompanied by a varying magnetic field; the latter gives an electromotive force that resists the changes in current. The more the current changes, the more an inductor resists it: the reactance is proportional with the frequency (hence zero for DC). There is also a phase difference between the current and the applied voltage.
Inductive reactance has the formula
Capacitive reactance (symbol XC) reflects the fact that electrons can not pass, yet effectively alternating current (AC) can: the higher the frequency the better. There is also a phase difference between the alternating current flowing through a capacitor and the potential difference across the capacitor's electrodes.
Capacitive reactance has the formula