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

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

Just the tiniest slice of what's out there: the Pencil Nebula is pictured in an image from the European Southern Observatory's La Silla facility in Chile. This peculiar cloud of glowing gas is part of a huge ring of wreckage left over after a supernova explosion that took place about 11,000 years ago. ESO hide caption

toggle caption ESO

NPR thanks our sponsors

Become an NPR sponsor