Working from the standard model of the "Big Bang" some 14 billion years ago, we are investigating the early epoch of inflation and the nature and role of dark matter in the evolution of structure in the Universe.
Soon after the Big Bang, the Universe became a space filled with "stuff:" neutral gas, dark matter, and radiation. After several hundred million years, primitive structures began to form from the first chemical elements, creating the first massive stars and eventually the first galaxies.
Although astronomers have discovered well over 160 planets in other solar systems, we do not really know what conditions actually produce life. We seek to resolve major uncertainties about the complex processes that lead from clouds of gas and dust to stars, planets, and the emergence of life.
The most violent and energetic phenomena in the Universe include gamma-ray bursts,
supernova explosions, black holes, neutron stars, and the as yet unidentified cosmic
accelerators which produce the highest energy photons and cosmic rays.