Henrietta Swan Leavitt Biography
Birthday: July 4, 1868 (Cancer)
Born In: Lancaster, Massachusetts
Henrietta Swan Leavitt was an American astronomer whose extensive research led other scientists to discover the ever-expanding nature of the universe. She was also the first person to determine the correlation between Cepheid variables and brightness. Born and raised in Lancaster, Massachusetts, she graduated from ‘Harvard University.’ During her years at ‘Harvard,’ she intensely studied a wide range of topics, including philosophy, calculus, fine arts, analytic geometry, and classic Greek. In the early 1900s, she started working at the ‘Harvard College Observatory,’ where she was assigned to the study of variable stars. She concluded in one of her early papers that the brightness of variables was directly proportional to the period of their luminosity. Although she remained anonymous for most of her life, her papers were analyzed later and paved way to several scientific breakthroughs. Her research results were regarded as the first “standard candle” that was used to measure the distance from our galaxy to faraway galaxies. Edwin Hubble, who concluded that the universe was always expanding, gave the credit of his discovery to Henrietta’s luminosity–period correlation.