A giant cluster of about 3,000 stars called Westerlund 2. The cluster resides in a raucous stellar breeding ground known as Gum 29, located 20,000 light-years away in the constellation Carina. NASA, ESA, STScI/AURA hide caption

itoggle caption NASA, ESA, STScI/AURA

The star in the center, as seen by the Hubble Space Telescope, is known as V1331 Cyg and is located in the dark cloud LDN 981. Karl Stapelfe/ESA/Hubble, NASA hide caption

itoggle caption Karl Stapelfe/ESA/Hubble, NASA

The Horsehead Nebula, as seen with infrared light, shows clouds surrounding it have already dissipated. The Horsehead formation has about 5 million years left before it, too, disintegrates. NASA/ESA hide caption

itoggle caption NASA/ESA

2011: In the early 21st century, attempts to visualize such complex ephemeral phenomena as ocean currents, wind direction, and speed grew increasingly sophisticated, as the volume of real-time data increased and supercomputers proved capable of processing it. This ocean surface current visualization was produced by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. Greg Shirah, Horace Mitchell, Hong Zhang and Dimitris Menemenlis/Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio hide caption

itoggle caption Greg Shirah, Horace Mitchell, Hong Zhang and Dimitris Menemenlis/Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio

Strontium atoms floating in the center of this photo are the heart of the world's most precise clock. The clock is so exact that it can detect tiny shifts in the flow of time itself. Courtesy of the Ye group and Brad Baxley/JILA hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of the Ye group and Brad Baxley/JILA

Physics is full of big, interesting questions about phenomenon such as black holes. This illustration shows the supermassive black hole at the heart of the active galaxy NGC 3783 in the southern constellation of Centaurus. M. Kornmesser/ESO hide caption

itoggle caption M. Kornmesser/ESO

We think that life came from non-life, from the increasing complexity of chemical reactions between biomolecules present on the primordial Earth. But what about the universe? How did it come to be if there was nothing before? iStockphoto hide caption

itoggle caption iStockphoto

Part of the ALMA array on the Chajnantor plateau of Chile points skyward to the Milky Way, our own galaxy. The center of our galaxy is visible as a yellowish bulge crossed by dark lanes, which are themselves huge clouds of interstellar dust. José Francisco Salgado/ESO hide caption

itoggle caption José Francisco Salgado/ESO

The hunt for dark matter started with astronomer Fritz Zwicky's observations of the Coma galaxy cluster in the 1930s. This recent image of the Coma cluster combines optical and X-ray observations from the Chandra mission. J.Sanders et al/NASA/CXC/MPE/SDSS hide caption

itoggle caption J.Sanders et al/NASA/CXC/MPE/SDSS

Your direct connection with the stars and all of the space in between them. iStockphoto.com hide caption

itoggle caption iStockphoto.com

Even if we find other life out there, in the depths of space, life here will still be a rare gem that must be worshipped and preserved at all costs. ESO hide caption

itoggle caption ESO