Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory

Science Updates


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.


Globular clusters are gravitationally bound ensembles of stars, as many as a million stars in some cases, grouped in roughly spherical clusters with diameters as small as only tens of light-years.

The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) is a "research institute" of the Smithsonian Institution. It is joined with the Harvard College Observatory (HCO) to form the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA). Because these research activities share Harvard and Smithsonian staff and resources, the links at this website will take you to information posted on the "CfA" pages.