Our research

From the origin of the Universe to the first building blocks of life

The Excellence Cluster ORIGINS investigates the origin of the Universe and life. The interdisciplinary research network emerges from the very fruitful collaboration between astro-, particle- and nuclear physicists within the previous Excellence Cluster Universe, which explored fundamental properties of the Universe.

ORIGINS is now taking the next step and explores the conjecture of modern cosmology that the Universe and the emergence of life have naturally unfolded from the initial conditions laid out in the Big Bang. This starts with space-time and its basic building blocks (particles and forces), and continues with the origin of the large-scale cosmic network dominated by dark matter to galaxies, stars and planets. The researchers want to show that life is the product of a natural process, a logical outcome of the Universe – which can be understood based on the laws of physics and chemistry from the initial conditions of the Big Bang.

The five big questions of ORIGINS

  • What are the fundamental forces and structures?
  • How did our Universe form and evolve?
  • How did the cosmic network with its galaxies, stars and planets come into being?
  • How did the building blocks of the Universe evolve from simple atoms to prebiotic molecules?
  • How did life on Earth come into being and is there life in space elsewhere?

ORIGINS links particle and fundamental physicists who work on the smallest quantum scales of the early universe with astro- and biophysicists who focus on galaxies, stars, planets and the origin of life. ORIGINS' goal is to build one of the largest and most comprehensive research initiatives in this field in the world


Research Units and cross-cutting projects go hand in hand

The science within ORIGINS is organized into five Research Units, which are closely interlinked by the Interconnected Universe with nine interdisciplinary cross-sectional projects, the so-called Connectors (CN), and the Data and Technology Centres. The Interconnected Universe is a unique instrument that faces overarching challenges and bundles expertise from all research groups. Even seemingly established topics such as "black holes" in CN-1, "dark energy" in CN-4 or matter under extreme conditions in CN-7 are treated in a novel way that does not exist anywhere else.