Hubble Essentials: About Edwin Hubble

The Legacy of Edwin Hubble

The Hubble Space Telescope was named after astronomer Edwin Powell Hubble (1889–1953), who made some of the most important discoveries in modern astronomy. As an astronomer, Dr. Hubble was a late bloomer. Before discovering his passion for the stars, Dr. Hubble earned a law degree and served in World War I. However, after practicing law for one year, he decided to “chuck law for astronomy,” knowing that “even if [he] were second rate or third rate, it was astronomy that mattered.”

In the 1920s, while working at the Mt. Wilson Observatory with the most advanced technology of the time, Dr. Hubble showed that some of the numerous distant, faint clouds of light in the universe were actually entire galaxies—much like our own Milky Way. The realization that the Milky Way is only one of many galaxies forever changed the way astronomers viewed our place in the universe.

But perhaps his greatest discovery came in 1929, when Dr. Hubble determined that the farther a galaxy is from Earth, the faster it appears to move away. This notion of an "expanding" universe formed the basis of the Big Bang theory, which states that the universe began with an intense burst of energy at a single moment in time — and has been expanding ever since.