Harlow Shapley, US astronomer

Harlow Shapley, US astronomer

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Caption: Harlow Shapley (1885-1972), US astronomer, in his office at Harvard College Observatory, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA. Shapley determined the size and shape of our galaxy, the Milky Way. His major work was on Cepheid variables; stars which vary in brightness with a period related to their luminosity. He studied the distribution of these stars in globular clusters (huge spherical star clusters). From this, he determined that the Milky Way was disc-shaped, that globular clusters were distributed around its centre both above and below the disc, and that the Sun was a considerable distance from the centre.

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