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

4 May 2017
All members of the COR community are invited to participate as the Cosmic Origins (COR) Program Office begins our annual assessment of technology gaps. »  Details [DOCX][PDF]
20 Mar 2017
Astrophysics Probe mission studies selected (3/20/2017) »  [PDF]

Project News

Hubble Space Telescope (HST)
6 Jul 2017
Hubble Pushed Beyond Limits to Spot Clumps of New Stars in Distant Galaxy » Details
James Webb Space Telescope (JWST)
JWST Recent News »  Details
Spitzer
25 May 2017
Collapsing Star Gives Birth to a Black Hole »  Details
Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
WFIRST Newsroom »  Details