Henrietta Swan Leavitt, an American astronomer, defied societal barriers to make groundbreaking discoveries.
Henrietta Swan Leavitt, an American astronomer, defied societal barriers to make groundbreaking discoveries. Working as a "computer" at Harvard College Observatory, she meticulously analysed photographic plates, studying variable stars. She had not been paid for her work at first, but in 1902, she eventually received $.0.30 an hour.
In 1912, she unveiled the revolutionary "period-luminosity relationship" of Cepheid variables—stars with greater luminosity exhibited longer periods. This breakthrough allowed astronomers to measure cosmic distances accurately. Ejnar Hertzsprung and Edwin Hubble built upon her work, reshaping modern astronomy and revealing the vastness of the universe beyond our Milky Way.
Despite never receiving a Nobel Prize nomination, Henrietta's invaluable contributions endure. Her name lives on through the asteroid 5383 Leavitt and the lunar crater named in her honor.