Science

Overall Context

In order to understand how the Universe has changed from its initial simple state following the Big Bang into the magnificent Universe we see as we look at the night sky, we must understand how stars, galaxies, and planets are formed over time. The Universe is comprised of mostly hydrogen and helium. In fact, these two elements make up 98% of the visible matter in the Universe. Nevertheless, our world and everything it contains—even life itself—is possible only because of the existence of heavier elements such as carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, silicon, iron, and many, many others. How long did it take the first generations of stars to seed our Universe with the heavy elements we see on Earth today? When in the history of the Universe was there a sufficient supply of heavy elements to allow the formation of prebiotic molecules and terrestrial-like planets upon which those molecules might combine to form life?

Our big question: "How did the universe originate and evolve to produce the galaxies, stars, and planets we see today?"

Program News

20 Mar 2017
Astrophysics Probe mission studies selected (3/20/2017) »  [PDF]
17 Mar 2017
COR Newsletter for March 2017 now available »  [PDF]
23 Feb 2017
Self nominations sought for APAC (replaces Astrophysics Subcommittee), due 8 March 2017. »  Details

Project News

Hubble Space Telescope (HST)
9 Feb 2017
Hubble Witnesses Massive Comet-Like Object Pollute Atmosphere of a White Dwarf » Details
James Webb Space Telescope (JWST)
JWST Recent News »  Details
Spitzer
10 Nov 2016
NASA Space Telescopes Pinpoint Elusive Brown Dwarf »  Details
Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
WFIRST Newsroom »  Details