This seems like such a simple question but there is just something that is not making sense to me. I'm a 4th year ECE student so I think I should know this answer. Here's the question:
Recently I've been doing a lot of work on RF stuff at my internship. I've gotten a good grasp on the fundamentals and can work on satellite ground station equipment and know what I am doing. But I started thinking tonight, and I am not sure why energy that we send into an antenna is radiated away, instead of appearing as reactive power.
In my mind, I'm thinking of it like this. Let's say we have a simple dipole antenna. Let's apply a negative voltage to one end of the dipole. This is going to effectively "cram" the electrons into the far end of the dipole. This change in the electric field is radiated away at the speed of light and can be picked up. If we then instantly removed the voltage from the dipole and assumed it was a lossless conductor, the electrons would try to restore themselves to a neutral distribution, but they are going to overshoot and oscillate. During this transition, they will generate a magnetic field. Afterwards, they will equalize with an electric field that was opposite to the one we applied. This is going to continue on forever provided no loss. I know that real antennas have loss but I am assuming that this is not actually where the power is going in antennas, as then they would be heating up by insane amounts.
This is my mind, constitutes an antenna that should be radiating power away, but I am not sure where it is going. I could understand that the power is transferred if there was another dipole nearby, but the radiation energy loss occurs whether or not there is a receiver for the radiated power. Why does the above example radiate power away even if it was left alone in an empty universe? Does it not and I'm just misunderstanding something? I was reading something about far vs near fields that might have to do with my question but I was still confused. Thanks for your help.