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Cosmology: The Study of the Universe and its Origins

Looking for the big picture? It doesn’t get any bigger than cosmology: the science of how the universe began and developed. What is it made of? How is it structured? What is its eventual fate, billions of years in the future? Supercomputer models and observations from ever-larger telescopes on the ground and in space have transformed cosmology into a predictive science, providing evidence that the universe is expanding at an ever-increasing rate, propelled by a mysterious pressure called “dark energy.” The new Hayden Planetarium Space Show Dark Universe explores this new age of cosmic discovery.

South Pole Observatory

Big Bang News Explained

Wondering what the March 2014 story about the Big Bang theory means for our knowledge of our universe? Or why you’re suddenly reading about “inflation” in a story about astrophysics? And just what are “cosmic ripples”?

Our Expanding Universe

Our Expanding Universe

In 1998, two independent teams of astrophysicists discovered a baffling phenomenon: the Universe is expanding at an ever-faster rate. The current understanding of gravity can't explain this cosmic acceleration. Scientists think that either a mysterious force called dark energy is to blame—or a reworking of gravitational theory is in order.

How did the universe begin?

How did the universe begin?

In the 1920s in California, astronomer Edwin Hubble observed distant galaxies using an extremely powerful telescope. He made two mind-boggling discoveries.

George LeMaitre

Profile: Georges Lemaitre, Father of the Big Bang

According to the Big Bang theory, the expansion of the observable universe began with the explosion of a single particle at a definite point in time. This startling idea first appeared in scientific form in 1931, in a paper by Georges Lemaître, a Belgian cosmologist and Catholic priest.


The 142-Megapixel Digital Camera

Imagine if your digital camera was scaled to the size of a dishwasher. And weighed about 135 kilograms. And cost about $5 million to build.

OLogy_Space and Time

Space and Time

 According to Einstein, you need to describe where you are not only in three-dimensional space* — length, width and height — but also in time. Time is the fourth dimension. So to know where you are, you have to know what time it is.

What is Relativity and Why Should You Care? Thumbnail

What is Relativity and Why should you care?

Astrophysicist and educator Jeffrey Bennett introduces the basic tenets of Einstein's theory and underscores its importance to our modern understanding of the universe.

Newton's Law of Motion

Newton's Laws of Motion and Gravity Applied to Meteorites

Newton's laws of motion and law of gravity changed our understanding of the universe. These laws are demonstrable in what students have learned while studying meteorites.

Sloan Digital Sky Survey Telescope

The Big Questions

In science, there are questions, and there are Questions. Astronomers, in particular, want to know the structure of the Universe in detail.

Astro News: Many Star Types Host Planet-Building Material

Many Star Types Host Planet-Building Material

In the nearby Hyades star cluster, a pair of dead stars is surrounded by dust particles that resemble the building blocks of rocky planets.


Profile: Carl Sagan and the Quest for Life in the Universe

He was a leading planetary astronomer, a pioneer in the search for extraterrestrial biology, a spellbinding teacher, and the most effective public advocate for the values of science the world has ever seen.


Frontiers Lecture: One Second After the Big Bang

Christopher Tully, professor of physics at Princeton University, discusses a new experiment and its potential to challenge core predictions of the Big Bang.

Gravitational Waves

Gravitational Waves Detected

LIGO detectors open a new window on the universe.

Composition of the Universe

What's The Composition of the Universe?

The composition of the universe is constantly changing. The universe began with hydrogen and helium. Through fusion in the stars and explosive supernovae other heavier elements were created from these two elements.

Meet the Universe's Main Attraction...Gravity

Meet the Universe's Main Attraction...Gravity

If you throw a ball into the air, it will return to the ground. Why? Earth has invisible pulling power called gravity. Every object in the universe-stars, planets, moons, even you - has gravity. Gravity is a force of attraction between all objects. Some things have lots of gravity, some have just a little.

Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation

Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation

In 1929, Edwin Hubble showed that the light from distant galaxies is shifted to longer wavelengths in proportion to their distances from the Milky Way. The modern interpretation is that space itself is expanding, carrying the galaxies along for the ride.


Profile: Vera Rubin and Dark Matter

For every visible star in the observable universe, there are nine masses that are invisible and unidentified. Learn more about the astronomer who proved the existence of dark matter.


Frontiers Lecture: In Search of the True Universe

Astorophysicist Martin Harwit discusses the new frontier of dark matter and dark energy in this 2014 lecture.

The New Cosmology

Cosmic Microwave Background: The New Cosmology

The Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) is a vast curtain of energy left over from the Big Bang. It is the oldest, most distant feature of the observable Universe.

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