The Story of Our Universe
This illustration summarizes the almost 14-billion-year-long history of our universe. It shows the main events that occurred between the initial phase of the cosmos -- where its properties were almost uniform and punctuated only by tiny fluctuations -- to the rich variety of cosmic structure that we observe today, ranging from stars and planets to galaxies and galaxy clusters. The Planck mission has made the most precise map ever of the oldest light from our universe, the cosmic microwave background, harking back to less than 400,000 years after the big bang. Patterns of light in this map reflect not only events that happened just moments after the big bang, but also the light's long journey from the distant universe to Earth. By studying these patterns, scientists can learn about the origins, fate and ingredients of our universe.