Stars form when gravity pulls together material within giant clouds of gas and dust. But gravity isn't the only force at work. Both turbulence and magnetic fields battle gravity, either by stirring things up or by channeling and restricting gas flows, respectively.
"The Dynamic Sun," a new exhibit conceived, designed and built by researchers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA), has just opened at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (NASM) in Washington, D.C.
New stars regularly appear in the night sky as the gas and dust in giant interstellar clouds gradually coalesce under the influence of gravity. The process of making stars, however, is inefficient, and (at least in present-day galaxies) there are copious amounts of material that don't make it into stars.