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Perhaps more than any other person Edwin Hubble 1884-1953 expanded our view of the universe At the dawn of the 20th century most astronomers thought that the Milky Way Galaxy was the universe and it measured only a few thousand light-years across In the 1910s Harlow Shapley showed that the galaxy actually stretches about 100000 light-years and Henrietta Leavitt determined that the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds two companion galaxies to our own visible from the Southern Hemisphere lay slightly outside the Milky Ways border But one big question that remained was the nature of the fuzzy patches of light known as nebulae In 1923 and 1924 Hubble used the largest telescope in the worldthe 100-inch Hooker Telescope at Mt Wilsonto examine the Andromeda Nebula The Oxford-trained lawyer-turned-astronomer detected for the first time stars similar to those in our own galaxy By comparing how bright the stars appeared with how much light they actually gave off he estimated the distance to the nebula as nearly a million light-years clearly making it a huge galaxy in its own right Hubble went on to find the distances to many other galaxies eventually pushing the frontiers of the universe out to hundreds of millions of light-years He then compared the distances to the speeds with which the galaxies were racing away and deduced that the farther away the galaxy the faster it moved This relation known as Hubbles Law was observational proof that the universe was expanding Appropriately the famed Hubble telescope was named in his honor
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