P is for Cecilia Payne – Astronomer #AtoZChallenge

P is for Cecilia Payne – Astronomer

++ A to Z of Notable Women in STEM ++

Dr. Cecilia Payne (1900 – 1979) helped us understand the composition and temperature of stars through the study of the spectra of starlight.

Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin at work.

Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin at work.

Through her research, Dr. Payne showed that it was possible to determine the actual temperature of stars based upon their spectral class, which is determined by the apparent color of the star’s light and the pattern of absorption lines throughout its color spectrum.

Spectra of stars. Dark lines are absorptions characteristic of the elements making up the star.

Spectra of stars. Dark lines are absorptions characteristic of the elements making up the star.

Her research further showed that hydrogen was the most abundant element in stars and in fact the most abundant element in the universe.

You can learn more about Cecilia Payne here.

See more notable women of STEM in my contribution to the April A to Z blogging challenge for 2016.

Add your own “P”-named women to the list in the comments below!

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