The available astronomical data indicate that the universe is about 13.7 billion years old. This estimate is based, in part, on the observation that the universe is constantly expanding. Astronomers have plotted the trajectories (directional movement) of various stars and galaxies and determined that all matter in the known universe arose from a common point. In an event often referred to as the "Big Bang," the universe arose in a relatively brief moment in time and matter was flung outward from this central origin. Since this beginning, this vast amount of matter has been hurling through space, undergoing a number of many changes as it traverses the cosmos.
By using radiometric dating techniques (discussed herein) of pristine meteorites, astronomers have determined that our own solar system, along with the earth, formed 4.55 - 4.56 billion years ago.
The Hubble telescope was dispatched in 1990 to explore the far reaches of our galaxy and to photograph events (e.g., star formation). Astronomers use images captured by the Hubble telescope to further our understanding of the origin of the universe and solar systems.