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How Big is the Universe?

Two great debates have taken center stage in the search to answer this age-old question.

RELATED TOPICS: GREATEST MYSTERIES | COSMOLOGY
UltraDeep
ULTRA DEEP FIELD. In 2009, when Hubble astronomers combined images at optical, ultraviolet, and near-infrared wavelengths, they found larger and more “mature” galaxies than they expected. In this deep portrait of the universe, we see some 13 billion years of cosmic history.
NASA/ESA

In April 1920, Harlow Shapley and Heber Curtis argued over the scale of the universe in the great auditorium of the Smithsonian Institution’s Natural History Museum in Washington, D.C. 

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