He is the one who established that our Universe is expanding. One of the NASA’S largest and most versatile telescope, The Hubble Space Telescope, has been named after him in honour of his intellect. Yess! He is none other than Edwin Powell Hubble, the man who changed our understanding of the cosmos! So today, on his 129th birth anniversary, let’s dig into the crucial contributions he made to the field of astronomy and observational cosmology and let’s find out that why he is regarded as one of the most important astronomers of all time!
Edwin Powell Hubble was born on 20th November, 1889, in Missouri, USA. Hubble was an all rounder in during his school days. He always earned good grades in all the subjects and was also well known for his athletic prowess. He was a keen fisherman, a basketball player and an amateur boxer too.The combination of his athletic and academic capabilities earned him a scholarship to Oxford. Though he was inclined to astronomy at a young age itself, but his father didn’t approve of this and he was forced to take up law. However, Hubble somehow managed to include physics and mathematics in his subjects. After, Hubble’s father’s death, Hubble tried to practice law, but he couldn’t do justice to it as his heart never belonged there. Consequently, in 1914, Hubble realised where he belonged to and returned to the university to pursue his passion to study astronomy and to know the unknown ! During this period, he also went to serve in the war and also took up teaching and basketball coaching for some time. Finally, he received his Ph.D at the University’s Yerkes observatory in 1917. After this, there was no looking back for this genius mind and he made some ground breaking discoveries.
Before 20th century, every cloudy object in the night sky was referred to as nebulae. Even our nearest galaxy, The Andromeda, was considered to be a nebula. However, in 1924, Hubble measured the distance between Andromeda and earth by using Hershell’s technique of capheid variable stars and noticed something shocking! He found out that the distance was too large to fit inside the boundaries of milky way! This demonstrated the existence of other galaxies beside our milky way, profoundly changing the way we looked at our universe !
After this, Hubble began to classify all the known nebulae and started calculating their velocities. And what he discovered next was completely bewildering! He noticed that all the galaxies are receding away from us, with their velocities being proportional to their distance. In simple words, it means that farther a galaxy is, the faster it is moving away from us! This came to be known as Hubble’s law and changed the early existing concept of static universe for ever and established that our Universe is continuously expanding . Hubble also devised a new method of classifying galaxies according to their appearance in photographic images, known as Hubble Sequence.
The remarkable revelations made by Hubble made him recieve several awards. These include the Newcomb Cleveland Prize in 1924, Bruce Medal in 1938, Franklin Medal in 1939, and Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1940. Hubble also earned the Legion of Merit for his outstanding contribution to ballistics research in 1946. Apart from having a telescope in outer space after his name, a crater on moon has also been named Hubble in his honour.
He remained active in astronomy research until his death, both at Mount Wilson Observatory and also at Palomar Observatory, where he had a central role in the design and construction of the 200-inch Hale Telescope. When the Hale Telescope was completed in 1948, Hubble was the first to use it. However, Hubble died of cerebral thrombosis on September 28, 1953 in California. Surprisingly, no funeral was held and his wife, Grace, never revealed that what happened to his body.
You changed our understanding of the cosmos!
Happy Birthday Sir!