News By/Courtesy: Amaruvi Vijay Sudharshan | 26 Jul 2020 11:51am IST


  • Milky Way was around 300,000 light-years across
  • But now astronomers put it at a little over 100,000 light-years.
  • Currently, the universe is about 93 billion light-years across

"Let us go rambling about the Universe." This is the invitation that American astronomer Harlow Shapley gave to an audience in Washington DC in 1920.

So how big is space?

He believed that the Milky Way was around 300,000 light-years across. But now astronomers put it at a little over 100,000 light-years. His measurements are pretty good for a person at that time. He also calculated the distance of the Sun relative from the center of the Milky Way for instance. 

"Even if the spirals are stellar, they are not comparable in size with our stellar system," he said. But people disagreed with his views. Other astronomers argued that there are other galaxies that would be as big as our galaxy. Today, however, we are confident that the Milky Way is anywhere from 100,000 lightyears to 150,000 lightyears across. 

Currently, the universe is about 93 billion lightyears across. astronomers have developed an ingenious array of tools and measuring systems to calculate not just the distance from Earth to other bodies in our Solar System, but the spans between galaxies and the journey to the edge of the observable Universe itself. The Universe is just too big for the mind to comprehend it's vastness. We are also not sure whether that is the correct number. What about the light which hasn't reached is from more than the distance of 93 billion lightyears? They would not have reached us yet and that doesn't mean that they are not there. This is the puzzle that scientists are facing. 

How are the distances of objects in the universe calculated?

The further away objects are from us, the further towards the red end of the spectrum those lines will be shifted. That is not just because the objects are far away, but because they are actually moving further away from us over time, thanks to the Universe's expansion. And seeing redshift in the light from distant galaxies is one way of proving that the Universe is, indeed, expanding.

The universe is expanding and the galaxies are moving away from each other at an incredible speed. It is wonderful.

This article does not intend to hurt the sentiments of any individual, community, sect, or religion etcetera. This article is based purely on the author's personal opinion and views in the exercise of the Fundamental Rights guaranteed under Article 19(1)(A) and other related laws being enforced in India for the time being.

Section Editor: Pushpit Singh | 26 Jul 2020 17:45pm IST

Tags : Space

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