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Hubble at work.

Photograph of Edwin Hubble, adjusting instrument settings as he peers through a finder-scope on the 100-inch telescope on Mt. Wilson.
Edwin Hubble at the 100-inch telescope on Mount Wilson. (credit: NASA)

Hubble’s findings are enormously important, for they indicate that the universe is both isotropic    and homogeneous    —it looks the same in all directions, and a large volume of space at any given redshift or distance is much like any other volume at that redshift. If that is so, it does not matter what section of the universe we observe (as long as it’s a sizable portion): any section will look the same as any other.

Hubble’s results—and many more that have followed in the nearly 100 years since then—imply not only that the universe is about the same everywhere (apart from changes with time) but also that aside from small-scale local differences, the part we can see around us is representative of the whole. The idea that the universe is the same everywhere is called the cosmological principle    and is the starting assumption for nearly all theories that describe the entire universe (see The Big Bang ).

Without the cosmological principle, we could make no progress at all in studying the universe. Suppose our own local neighborhood were unusual in some way. Then we could no more understand what the universe is like than if we were marooned on a warm south-sea island without outside communication and were trying to understand the geography of Earth. From our limited island vantage point, we could not know that some parts of the planet are covered with snow and ice, or that large continents exist with a much greater variety of terrain than that found on our island.

Hubble merely counted the numbers of galaxies in various directions without knowing how far away most of them were. With modern instruments, astronomers have measured the velocities and distances of hundreds of thousands of galaxies, and so built up a meaningful picture of the large-scale structure of the universe. In the rest of this section, we describe what we know about the distribution of galaxies, beginning with those that are nearby.

The local group

The region of the universe for which we have the most detailed information is, as you would expect, our own local neighborhood. It turns out that the Milky Way Galaxy is a member of a small group of galaxies called, not too imaginatively, the Local Group    . It is spread over about 3 million light-years and contains more than 54 members. There are three large spiral galaxies (our own, the Andromeda galaxy, and M33), two intermediate ellipticals, and many dwarf ellipticals and irregular galaxies.

New members of the Local Group are still being discovered. We mentioned in The Milky Way Galaxy a dwarf galaxy only about 80,000 light-years from Earth and about 50,000 light-years from the center of the galaxy that was discovered in 1994 in the constellation of Sagittarius. (This dwarf is actually venturing too close to the much larger Milky Way and will eventually be consumed by it.)

Many of the recent discoveries have been made possible by the new generation of automated, sensitive, wide-field surveys, such as the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, that map the positions of millions of stars across most of the visible sky. By digging into the data with sophisticated computer programs, astronomers have turned up numerous tiny, faint dwarf galaxies that are all but invisible to the eye even in those deep telescopic images. These new findings may help solve a long-standing problem: the prevailing theories of how galaxies form predicted that there should be more dwarf galaxies around big galaxies like the Milky Way than had been observed—and only now do we have the tools to find these faint and tiny galaxies and begin to compare the numbers of them with theoretical predictions.

Questions & Answers

hi, I am yamini, I am in class 8 but very much interested in astronomy and go to NASA, what are the subjects in which I can master and lead to NASA.
yamini Reply
Hello Yamini, Im Ken and I'm avery intrested in joining the NASA too. Is nice to meet you.
Ken
very*
Ken
nice to meet u ken
yamini
What I know about the subjects is that you have to be a master on science and math, also if you know about aviation is better too
Ken
I read that the Russian language is very important, is not a requirement but it's like an extra point!
Ken
yeah like physics, chemistry and maths, they are my most favorite.
yamini
than you can go free of cost
Arush
Yes, That's right!
Ken
how
yamini
Oh! Free of cost?
Ken
hello yamini nice to meet you
Burak
what is time
Abdul Reply
Time is relative
mrunal
pls elaborate
sakshi
the clear defination.I know that.
Abdul
In planet mars there the life exits or not and is there water there
Eshwarsa Reply
see till now nothing can be found as u know that the curiosity rover has struck in mars
Maya
It has been proven that there are water molecules on Mars but not enough that most lifeforms could thrive upon.
Ariana
There are huge amounts of water in the ice caps and under the surface. The surface and chemistry indicate that Mars had cosiderable amounts of water on its surface in the past.
Julius
what is your opinion about the theory of Vedas about modern physics..
Manish Reply
i think in some ways vedas are also correct but not everytime
Maya
I agree
sakshi
hmm even I agree
Samuel
Is there any patened theory about time relativitg in growth and development?
donot Reply
some astronomer's says that there is no alien exist but why search for extra terrestrial intelligence center is established
Eshwarsa Reply
No One Knows That For Absolute Fact, The Universe Is Too Huge To Have Any Type Of Idea About What Exist In The Far Reaches Of Our Universe.....
Adam
Check Out The Drake Equation.....
Adam
their should be aliens as like ours there would be another planet
Maya
which could have existed life on it
Maya
adam i want to ask a question
Maya
can kepler 1st law be applied on all the planets of the universe
Maya
hello, anyone home?
Denise
sjskskfhjkkktewqqw and try?
Lanika Reply
what is this ?
Samuel
hi I am Samuel from India mumbai
Samuel
nice to meet you
Samuel
thats my question, what is this?
penzias and wilson's a discovery of the cosmic microwave background is a nice example of scientific serendipity-something that is found by chance but turns out to have a positive outcome
Jacqueline Reply
how should I make my carrier in astronomy
Ayush Reply
I think that Newton's third law is not appropriate if any also thinks like this please reply me
Ayush
Can you explain your reasoning
Huh
why u think so
joseph
yes Ayush u are right
Yoganshu
I think when we apply force to a object it start moving but , a/c to Newton's third law every action has equal and opposite reaction,so object should also exert equal force on us and it should not move due to balanced force
Ayush
if I am not right then reply me
Ayush
no
Zack
because of friction that opposes that force and help us to move ahead
Manish
but this is not satisfied as third law say another thing
Ayush
you are telling why object moves
Ayush
you have to think a/c to third law
Ayush
its because of its mass
Maya
because it is applying equal and opposite force but also our mass is also less in comparison to the object
Maya
which is why we cant move the object but it can make move us
Maya
manish is too correct in his place because we need to apply force which would overcome the frictional force
Maya
My dear friends, can u plz tell me that among u guys who are in the field of cosmology
Madhav Reply
😢I am not there in cosmology
Samuel
Just A Science Fan.....
Adam
Adam even I am 😥😅😅😂😂
Samuel
I am also not in cosmology but I am just a fan or we can say science and part of NASA is my dream
Yoganshu
yoganshu Arya same here
Samuel
you are from which country
Yoganshu
hi yoganshu
Samuel
India
Samuel
which state
Samuel
I am also from India
Yoganshu
from delhi
Yoganshu
and u...?
Yoganshu
I am from Maharashtra
Samuel
from which state?
Yoganshu
You are a ASTRONOMER ...
Yoganshu
or a scientist..
Yoganshu
or just a member
Yoganshu
What is time...? not about Newton= time is constant..... that all scientists openions n point of view I m knowing. . what can be the Perfect Definition of Time
Madhav Reply
time is what clock reads
Ayush
Who is the best astronomer of India at present time
Gian Reply
Jayant Narlikar, Proponent Of Steady State Cosmology.....
Adam
What is the real colour of sun rays
Gian Reply
white.. so white it becomes violet.. so violet it become ultraviolet
Tom
white and red and yellow
Bianca
Vibgyor
Samuel
the real colour of sunlight is White
Madhav
the Sun's has a variety of waves all throughout the elextromagnetic spectrum.
Jacie
we only see it as a few bc of how some of them get redshifted (? can that term be applied for something so local?) by some particles in our upper atmosphere
Jacie
Vibgyor will be when, the white light will pass through the clouds ( prism ) then Refraction phenomenon leads us to 7 colours splitting from a single colour "White " light
Madhav
so the sun rays r of White colour
Madhav
Taurus in astronomy and horoscope?
Yasser Reply
how to put E=MC2
Gospel Reply
What Do You Mean By How To Put?
Adam
What Do You Mean By How To Put?
Adam
What Do You Mean By "How To Put E=MC2?
Adam
yep
Gospel
Hi guys
Samuel
i mean how NASA came to know the mass and diameters of Stars.how?
Gospel
how did they do using E=MC2
Gospel
thats my questioning
Gospel
that's easy formula's derivation
Madhav
Practice Key Terms 6

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Source:  OpenStax, Astronomy. OpenStax CNX. Apr 12, 2017 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11992/1.13
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