A retrospective: Edwin Powell Hubble

Edwin Powell Hubble, was born in 1889, Marshfield, Missouri, and was one of eight children. His family were of Christian faith, but he grew to have many doubts which were reflected in statements later in his life. In 1906 he got a scholarship for the University of Chicago, where he was a student laboratory assistant to physicist, Robert Andrews Millikan, where in 1910 he received his bachelors of science degree. He then spent three years studying Jurisprudence (The theory of law) at The Queen’s college, Oxford.

After his father’s death in 1913 he returned to America, and uninterested in law, he became a teacher at a high school in New Albany, Indiana, where he taught physics and mathematics. After just a year of teaching, his love for astronomy got the better of him, and he studied at Yerkes Observatory, where he worked for a Ph.D, which he received in 1917.

“Not until the empirical resources are exhausted, need we pass on to the dreamy realms of speculation.” – Edwin Powell Hubble

After World War I ended, he started work at the Mount Wilson Observatory, near Pasadena, California, where he studied space using the Hooker telescope. In 1925 he concluded that the many nebulae that he’d meticulously observed, were indeed too far away to be in the Milky Way galaxy and were galaxies of their own. He began to photograph and categorise and this became known as the ‘Hubble Sequence‘.

Hubble’s Law came into fruition in 1929 with the ‘redshift theory

“The Hubble–Lemaître Law, also known as Hubble’s Law is the observation in physical cosmology that:

Objects observed in deep space—extragalactic space, 10 mega parsecs (Mpc) or more—are found to have a redshift, interpreted as a relative velocity away from Earth;

This Doppler shift-measured velocity of various galaxies receding from the Earth is approximately proportional to their distance from the Earth for galaxies up to a few hundred megaparsecs away” – Source

In 1936 he published his research in the form of, The Realm of the Nebulae, which focuses on his extragalactic astronomic discoveries. Throughout his life he continued to extensively research at Mount Wilson Observatory, as well as the Palomar Observatory in California. Hubble’s discovery of the expanding universe was claimed to be perhaps the most important scientific discovery, and one of the greatest intellectual revelations in Stephen Hawking’s book,  A Brief History of Time. Hubble died in 1953 whilst preparing for several days of space observation. In 1990 the Hubble Telescope was positioned in low Earth’s orbit and remains there to this day.