Edwin Hubble – Discoverer of Galaxies

Edwin Hubble was born in a small town in Missouri in 1889. From a young age, he developed an interest in science and astronomy and desperately wished to make astronomy his career.

Hubble graduated from college with a bachelor’s degree in science and was subsequently accepted as a Rhodes Scholar to study at Oxford University. Surprisingly, his studies at Oxford were in law rather than astronomy.

Upon graduating, he became a practicing lawyer in Louisville, Kentucky. He also worked for a time as a school teacher but he wasn’t happy with his career path. He returned to school and earned his doctorate in astronomy a short time later.

When Hubble began his career, the standard theory held that the Milky Way galaxy was the entirety of the universe. Through nightly observation, and the use of astronomic photography, Hubble proved that objects in the constellation Andromeda were at least one million light years away. In other words, there was more to the universe than the Milky Way. The universe was filled with galaxies!

Hubble’s other great breakthrough involved the discovery of an approximate relationship between the redshifts of galaxies and the distances to them using a formulation known as Hubble’s law. Through these measurements, a strong case is made for the expansion of the universe as well as supporting the Big Bang theory.

Edwin Hubble passed away in 1953. The Hubble Space Telescope (shown below) is named in his honor. Using data from the Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers hope to be able to figure out the likely fate of our universe: will it expand forever, or will the expansion reverse and cause the universe to collapse back into another Big Bang? It would be interesting to get Hubble’s take on things given the knowledge we know today.

Image Credit: NASA



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