This illustration shows the relative sizes of the habitable-zone planets Kepler-22b, Kepler-69c, Kepler-62e, Kepler-62f and the Earth. NASA/Ames/JPL-Caltech hide caption

itoggle caption NASA/Ames/JPL-Caltech

Cosmic microwave background radiation (CMB) as observed by Planck. The CMB is a snapshot of the oldest light in our Universe, imprinted on the sky when the Universe was just 380,000 years old. Planck Collaboration/ESA hide caption

itoggle caption Planck Collaboration/ESA

Science has been working to shed light on the nature of the Universe for 400 years. Alberto Pomares/iStockphoto.com hide caption

itoggle caption Alberto Pomares/iStockphoto.com

A computer simulation of the formation of large-scale structures in the Universe, showing a patch of 100 million light-years and the resulting coherent motions of galaxies flowing towards the highest mass concentration in the centre. The snapshot refers to an epoch about 10 billion years back in time. Klaus Dolag/VIMOS-VLT Deep Survey/ESO hide caption

itoggle caption Klaus Dolag/VIMOS-VLT Deep Survey/ESO

Don't panic! The end of the Universe (as we know it) isn't likely to hit us for billions of years, if it comes at all. Pictured: the Milky Way rises above the ESO's ALMA facility in Chile. José Francisco Salgado/ESO hide caption

itoggle caption José Francisco Salgado/ESO

An illustration shows the Earth's night sky 3.75 billion years from now, with the Andromeda galaxy (left) beginning to distort our own Milky Way as the two collide. While galactic collisions are eye catching, could something bigger be just over the horizon? Z. Levay/R. van der Marel/T. Hallas/A. Mellinger/NASA/ESA hide caption

itoggle caption Z. Levay/R. van der Marel/T. Hallas/A. Mellinger/NASA/ESA

Enjoy it while you can: the spectacular star-forming Carina Nebula has been captured in great detail by the VLT Survey Telescope at the ESO's Paranal Observatory. VPHAS Consortium/Cambridge Astronomical Survey Unit/ESO hide caption

itoggle caption VPHAS Consortium/Cambridge Astronomical Survey Unit/ESO

One way we make sense of the cosmos is to study what's in it, objects like this brown dwarf (artist's impression) observed by the ESO's ALMA project. Another way is to watch what happens when tiny particles are smashed together in "labs" such as the LHC at CERN. M. Kornmesser/ALMA/ESO/NAOJ/NRAO hide caption

itoggle caption M. Kornmesser/ALMA/ESO/NAOJ/NRAO