In recent space news, I cam upon an article on space.com about photographing a black hole. Apparently, scientists are attempting to capture a better image of the black hole at the center of our galaxy. With the help of at least 7 different observatories around the world, scientists are hoping to determine the mass, spin, and other regular characteristics exhibited by black holes in hopes to learn more about them. This idea of scientists pointing their telescopes at one area for an extended period of time reminds me of the story Dr. Morrison explained on the last day of class about the Hubble space telescope and how in doing so scientists came to the miraculous discovery about our universe.
Astronomers know the universe is expanding because when they look out into dark space where they expect nothing to be, they find more galaxies. In class discussion about the Hubble space telescope, there was a story mentioned about a man who pointed the telescope at an area of the sky that was in complete darkness for 10 hours over the course of 10 days. This picture ended up becoming more than just a blank, black screen. It became this:
This image is the product of Hubble staring at black space for 100 hours. It was explained in class that the reason for this image to appear is due to the expansion of the universe. If the universe wasn’t expanding, then the blank space would remain blank when studied further. However, since every blank space is constantly being filled at a distance, scientists believe that the universe is constantly expanding. Also, the knowledge we have about the age of our universe lends a hand in explaining why the universe is expanding as well. Since observing space is like observing time pass (due to the distance and time it takes light to travel to us), we can go all the way back to the first things we can see; These items are the oldest and we cannot look any father past them. Since we cannot look father, this must mean that their existence marks the age of our universe (roughly 13.7 billion years). After some time there was a period of darkness, then stopped by the light of our first stars for about 400 million years. From then, that universe has been growing because new items are being created. That is how we know that the universe is getting larger. If we were to look out and see only older stars, galaxies, and planets we could assume that the universe is staying constant. However, since when we look out we see new items in the “dark corners” where we presume nothing is, then that must lead to the truth of universal expansion.
I find it crazy to believe we are such a minuscule part of this life. In class discussion of the Pale Blue Dot, I lost myself in thought of what is out there and what can come to being. Other sciences can tell you direct specifics about our life, about chemicals, and physical properties, but the wonder that astronomy has to offer is unmatched. Its absurd to think that we might not know the purpose of our existence, if we are indeed one in billions, or if there is something greater out there…. But we keep on looking up. Not only is that poetic, but it is inspiring in our humanly conquest to keep moving on even if we do not know whats ahead. We move blindly through our solar system, our galaxy, and our universe and our life. And with that, I just have to say here’s to at least another 42 billion years of us searching for the answer to life, the universe, and everything.