The Past Decade and the Future of Cosmology and Astrophysics
In the last decade, there has been dramatic progress in exploring the cosmos. Highlights include close-up studies of the planets and moons of our Solar System; and (even more dramatic) the realization that most stars are orbited by planets, and that there may be millions of Earth-like planets in our Galaxy. On a still larger scale, we have achieved a better understanding of how galaxies have developed, over 13.8 billion years of cosmic history, from primordial fluctuations. These fluctuations might have been generated via quantum effects when our entire cosmos was of microscopic size. Einstein’s theory received further confirmation with the detection of gravitational wave—a tremendous technological achievement. Future advances will depend on more powerful instruments, which could reveal evidence of life on exoplanets, and yield a better understanding of the big bang, and the ultimate fact of our cosmos.