A Brief History
On March 18, 1934, a photograph taken by astronomer par excellence Edwin Hubble showed that there were more galaxies of stars in the observable Universe than there were stars (100 billion!) in the Milky Way Galaxy.
The Milky Way Galaxy is a group of stars and associated planets and other material that the Earth and our Solar System are part of. As late as the early part of the 20th Century astronomers believed the Milky Way Galaxy was the Universe, until Hubble proved that other galaxies were considerably farther away than the limits of the Milky Way, greatly expanding our knowledge of the minimum (observed) size of the Universe.
Although Hubble is remembered by the familiar and wonderful Hubble Space Telescope (launched 1990) that has provided incredible photos of space that could never be attained by Earthbound telescopes, Hubble did not receive a Nobel Prize for his groundbreaking work as in his day there was no Nobel Prize for Astronomy.
The immensity of the Universe has consistently been upgraded to a more and more massive entity as people have made new discoveries of farther and farther away objects. Scientists estimate there are between 100 billion and 1 trillion stars per galaxy, and that there are at least 100 billion galaxies and perhaps as many as 1 trillion galaxies! That is a lot of stars! The numbers and distances involved are so large it is hard for most people, or perhaps anyone, to grasp. The farthest object from the Earth detected by man so far is MAC0647-JD Galaxy, a mind numbing 13.3 billion light years away. (In other words, if we could travel at the speed of light, it would take 13.3 billion years to get there!) It is currently believed by astronomers that the Universe is at least 13.7 billion years old.
Depending on whether or not you have religious beliefs to the contrary, you may have heard and possibly accept the “Big Bang” theory of the origin of the Universe, one that tells us our Universe is expanding from a central origin point. We wonder if this is just the “observable” part of the Universe, and that the part we can observe and perceive as growing is just one of many bajillions of such “universes” out there. Will we ever know? Sure seems unlikely, unless mankind is around a long, long time and makes incredible progress in technology and science. Perhaps it is impossible to know, unless you count faith as “knowing.”
Question for students (and subscribers): What do you think about the nature of our Universe and the generally accepted scientific theories about it? How about the Biblical impressions of the Earth and Universe? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below this article.
Your readership is much appreciated!
For more information, please see…
Datnow, Claire L. Edwin Hubble: Genius Discoverer of Galaxies (Genius Scientists and Their Genius Ideas). Enslow Publishers, 2015.