Three commonly found heatsinks and a larger one with a fan mounted on it to assist cooling.
Many integrated circuits and power regulators produce heat as they operate. The heat is the natural result of current passing through the semiconductors that they are made out of. Semiconductors have their names because they are only semiconductive and do not conduct electricity as well as some other materials. Therefore the natural resistance semiconductors have to current expends the energy of some of the electrons passing through them as heat.

Excessive heat can damage electronic devices. In order to combat the problem of heat generated in electric circuits heatsinks are sometimes attached to components that generate the most heat. Heatsinks are made of thermally conductive materials and have folds made into them in order to increase surface area so that the heat from the component is dissipated into the air quicker. Heatsinks are also sometimes attached with a layer of thermally conductive past. The paste helps to insure that heat is conducted efficiently between the component and the heatsink.
A power regulator attached to a large heatsink.

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