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Friday fact #2: What are stars made of?

Her groundbreaking conclusion was initially rejected.

Meet Cecilia Helena Payne-Gaposchk, a British-born American astronomer and astrophysicist.

In her 1925 doctoral thesis, she proposed that stars were composed primarily of hydrogen and helium.

Her groundbreaking conclusion was initially rejected because it contradicted the scientific wisdom of the time, which held that there were no significant elemental differences between the Sun and Earth.

However, independent observations eventually proved she was correct.

While accepting the Henry Norris Russell Prize from the American Astronomical Society , Payne spoke of her lifelong passion for research:

“The reward of the young scientist is the emotional thrill of being the first person in the history of the world to see something or understand something. Nothing can compare with that experience […]”

If her story doesn’t inspire you I don’t know what will.