This composite image shows the galaxy cluster 1E 0657-56, also known as the "bullet cluster."
Explore our Frontier Research

Astrophysics & cosmology

To explore the birth of the universe, the formation of stars and galaxies and the fundamental structure of space and time, SLAC researchers develop cutting-edge technologies for sensitive experiments located deep underground, on the surface and in space.

SLAC’s astrophysicists and cosmologists pursue top-priority research on topics including dark matter and dark energy, galaxy formation and cosmic evolution. Like their colleagues in particle physics, they want to understand our universe, from its smallest constituents to its largest structures.


Speed of hydrogen gas in a rotating galaxy.

The early universe

What happened in the first moments after the Big Bang 14 billion years ago? SLAC scientists are joining others to search the oldest observable light, the cosmic microwave background (CMB), for clues.

Early universe news

Research project


Four microwave telescopes at the South Pole will search the CMB for evidence of cosmic inflation, a popular theory of the universe’s first fraction of a second of existence.

BICEP array.
Research project


CMB-S4’s microwave telescopes at the South Pole and Chile’s Atacama Plateau will search the sky for evidence of primordial gravitational waves, a sign of inflation.

 Astrophysics & cosmology
Formation of dark matter structures.

Dark matter

One of modern science’s biggest mysteries is dark matter, an invisible form of matter that shapes galaxy rotation and bends rays of light. No one knows what dark matter is, but scientists are carrying out a number of experiments to learn more.

Dark matter news

Space-Based Observatory

Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope

Fermi’s Large Area Telescope will perform a continuous, all-sky survey to study a range of astrophysical phenomena, including indirect searches for dark matter.

Located deep underground, the SuperCDMS collaboration is searching for dark matter particles with masses smaller than ten times the mass of the proton.

SuperCDMS Detection.
Research Project


LZ searches for dark matter by looking for collisions with xenon nuclei inside a tank of purified xenon 4,850 feet underground in South Dakota's Sanford Underground Research Facility.

LSST Telescope

Dark energy

The universe is expanding at an ever-increasing rate, but why? Scientists study the force that drives that acceleration, dubbed “dark energy,” with deep astronomical surveys that look at how the distribution of galaxies has changed over billions of years.

Dark energy news

Research project

Dark Energy Survey (DES)

DES studies dark energy through its impact on the abundance of galaxy clusters, gravitational lensing, supernovae and detections of large-scale correlations between galaxies.

Blanco Telescope dome, where the Dark Energy Camera (DECam) is installed.

LSST will take images of the entire visible southern sky over and over for a decade, creating a vast, public archive of data that will dramatically advance our knowledge of dark energy and dark matter.

LSST Telescope
White dwarfs work as "cosmic clocks".

Cosmic evolution

SLAC and Stanford researchers develop theories of the evolution of the cosmos – from the Big Bang to the formation of the first stars and galaxies to the structures we observe today – and test them against a wealth of data from experiments.

Cosmic evolution news

KIPAC brings the power of theory, computation, experiments and observations to bear on astrophysical questions, from the origins of cosmic rays to the structure and evolution of the universe.

Proto galaxy

SLAC's Computational Astrophysics group seeks to bring the combined strength of theoretical and experimental physics to bear on some of the most fascinating problems in particle astrophysics and cosmology.

astrophysics & cosmology
Picturing the Universe

KIPAC’s Visualization Lab

KIPAC's visualization and data analysis facilities help scientists at KIPAC and SLAC analyze their large-scale scientific data sets, including building stunning visual recreations of the evolution of the universe

Astrophysics & cosmology