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  • Print publication year: 2020
  • Online publication date: December 2020

3 - Homogeneity of the Universe: Great Minds Speak Out

Summary

Astronomers in the past clearly recognized the irregular nature of the galaxy distribution in the nearby Universe. Both Herschel (ca. 1800) and Shapley (ca. 1932) detected and described these effects. They both named specific regions in the sky that are crowded with galaxies and other regions that are significantly deficient in galaxies. However, the scientific views of Hubble published in 1936 overshadowed these early results, and based on his beliefs (with no significant substantiating evidence) Hubble asserted that the Universe (both locally and at great distances) is isotropic and homogeneous. Hubble’s 1936 analysis used counts of faint galaxies to show that the Universe – with galaxies as designated “markers” in space – extends in depth to the greatest limits he was able to obtain at Mt. Wilson Observatory. In the 1930s, Holmberg and others set the foundation for hierarchical structure formation to explain the origin of groups and clusters of galaxies.