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Review your understanding of fields and the forces that create them in this free article aligned to NGSS standards.

Key points:

  • A field represents empty space around an object where a non-contact force, like gravity or an electric force, could exist.
  • The idea of fields was created to help explain how objects can exert forces on each other, even when they’re not touching each other.
  • Fields exist around objects with certain properties.
    • Gravitational fields exist around objects with mass.
    • Electric fields exist around objects with charge.
    • Magnetic fields exist around magnetic objects.
  • Each location in a field has a magnitude and direction. We can represent this by drawing field lines at different points around an object. These field lines can then be used to help explain the forces that an object would experience in that location.
An image of Earth with 12 equally-spaced arrows outside and around Earth pointing towards it.
Earth with field lines drawn to show its gravitational field.

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