The character I just mentioned used a magic tool that saw beyond the “universe”, revealing a twin brother, maybe more. He then realized that they were all part of a whole, true universe, much larger and more complex than anyone could have ever imagined. That man was Edwin Powell Hubble, and the “magic tool” was the Hooker Telescope. This is the first telescope to show that the universe is not just one galaxy.
It was once a small universe, barely holding a single galaxy in its arms, becoming one with it. He was static and finite, or so everyone thought, until one man proved otherwise. Read the story of his life and career in the following.
Edwin Powell Hubble (November 20, 1889 – September 28, 1953) was born in Marshfield, Missouri. As a child, he was admired more for his physical qualities than for his intellectual qualities, although he had good grades in most subjects. He was passionate about Jules Verne’s books, and in his youth his attention was drawn to science and the horizons it opens.
He studied astronomy, mathematics and philosophy at the University of Chicago, after which he obtained a master’s degree in Spanish at Oxford University, where he also studied law. He immediately realized that his job as a lawyer did not suit him, so he returned to his old passion – astronomy. Hubble also had a heroic spirit, fighting both in World War I, where he received the rank of major, and in World War II.
In 1917 he returned to the University of Chicago and received his doctorate, his dissertation being “Photographic Investigation of Dark Nebulae.” He then received a job at the Mount Wilson Observatory in California. Throughout his career, he has made numerous discoveries, the most important of which is that the Universe extends beyond our galaxy. Shortly before his death, Hubble manages to fulfill one last wish, namely to be the first to use the Hale Telescope, the most powerful telescope ever built.
He died on September 28, 1953, the year he received the Nobel Prize in Physics, suffering from a very serious disease – cerebral thrombosis (a blood clot in the brain). No funeral service was held and it was never known where he was buried.
The universe is big. I mentioned the Hooker Telescope earlier. It was built in 1917, being the most efficient at that time. With its help, Hubble noticed some nebulae that seemed too far away to be part of our galaxy. The only explanation was that these nebulae were, in fact, galaxies. These were the first proofs he came up with to disprove the theory that the universe consists only of the Milky Way. However, Hubble faced many difficulties, with many astronomers opposing his crazy idea. Eventually, however, his merits were recognized. His discovery, published as if on purpose, on the first day of 1925, revolutionized the way the universe was viewed. The Hooker Telescope, the first to demonstrate the vastness of the universe.
The redshift of galaxies
The redshift occurs when the electromagnetic radiation emitted or reflected by an object is shifted toward the low energy domain of the electromagnetic spectrum, which is red. This is due to the Doppler effect (the effect of varying the frequency of a wave emitted by a source of oscillations, if it is moving relative to the receiver) or other gravitational effects.
The discovery of red galaxies has been attributed to Hubble, although it was understood some time before by James Edward Keeler, Vesto Melvin Slipher, and William Wallace Campbell (American astronomers).
Hubble worked for a while with Milton L. Humason. They combined their calculations with those of Melvin Slipher and observed a proportionality between the distances between objects and their movement to red.
In 1929, the two researchers formulated a law that later became known as the “Hubble Law.” It says that the greater the distance between any two galaxies, the faster their relative speed of separation. This discovery led to the consolidation of the Big Bang theory, which had already been proposed by Georges Lemaitre (Belgian physicist and astronomer) in 1927. It was also in line with Einstein’s equations of general relativity.
The universe is expanding
This was understood some time ago, but Hubble’s observations reinforced this theory, which is consistent with the Friedmann-Lemaitre model of general relativity. This model describes a universe that expands or contracts.
Hubble wrote two important papers: “Observational Approach to Cosmology” and “The Realm of the Nebulae.” These were written around 1939. Also this year, on August 30, Hubble discovered the asteroid “1373 Cincinnati”.
Although some time has passed since his death, Hubble has left a strong mark on the world of science, for which the Hubble Telescope, the Hubble Crater (on the Moon) and the 2069 Hubble Asteroid have been named in his honor.
A famous quote from Hubble is: “Equipped with his five senses, man explores the universe around him and calls the adventure Science”, in translation: “Equipped with his five senses, man explores the universe around him and calls it Science adventure ”.