You can’t see magnetism, but you can feel it working near a magnet.
In the space around a magnet is a magnetic field.
If you hold something made from magnetic material, such as iron or steel, in a magnetic field, you can feel the magnet and the metal attract each other even before they touch.
If you hold the north pole of one magnet near the north pole of another magnet, you can feel the two magnets repel each other.
The shape of a magnetic field changes when you put two magnets together.
If you put the north pole of one bar magnet near the south pole of another bar magnet, you can think of their magnetic field as consisting of imaginary lines, called flux lines, that pass from one magnet to the other. Between the centers of the poles, the flux lines are straight.
Moving away from the centers, the lines curve in ever-expanding arches.
If you put the north poles of two bar magnets close together, there are no flux lines because the magnets repel each other.
There’s a huge magnetic field around the sun. Glowing gases burst out from the sun’s surface. These gases help us to see the curved shapes of the sun’s magnetic field.
When two magnets are end to end, the shape of the magnetic field around them depends on which poles are facing each other. The lines show how the magnets either attract or repel each other.