Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory

Science Updates


The Gould Belt is an expanding ring of young stars, gas and dust situated about a thousand light-years from the Sun - which is to say, in our solar neighborhood. It stretches over a few thousand light-years and is thought to subsume many famous nearby nebulae like the one in Orion.


The formation of stars involves the complex interactions of many phenomena, including gravitational collapse, magnetic fields, turbulence, stellar feedback, and cloud rotation. The balance between these effects varies significantly between sources, and astronomers have adopted a statistical approach to understand the typical, early-stage star formation sequence.

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.