Here's why today's Google Doodle is celebrating the Turkish astrophysicist Dilhan Eryurt

Today's Google Doodle celebrates the life of Prof. Dr. Dilhan Eryurt (Image: Google)Today's Google Doodle celebrates the life of Prof. Dr. Dilhan Eryurt (Image: Google)
Today's Google Doodle celebrates the life of Prof. Dr. Dilhan Eryurt (Image: Google)

Today's Google Doodle celebrates Dilhan Eryurt, a Turkish astrophysicist who played a huge role in the way we understand how the Sun was formed.

But who was she, what were some of her notable achievements, and why has Google chosen today to honour her?

Here's everything you need to know.

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Who was Dilhan Eryurt?

Born in 1926 in İzmir - Turkey's third most populous city - Prof. Dr. Dilhan Eryurt grew up across the country, first moving to Istanbul with her family, and then on to Turkey's second city, Ankara, a few years later.

After developing an interest in mathematics in high school, Eryurt enrolled in the Istanbul University Department of Mathematics and Astronomy, and upon graduation, was assigned to open an Astronomy Department at Ankara University.

She relocated to the US to continue her graduate studies at the University of Michigan, and while there completed her doctorate at the Ankara University Department of Astrophysics, becoming Associate Professor.

From 1961, Eryurt held a position at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Centre, her appointment extra notable for the fact she was the only female astronomer working at the institution at the time.

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What did she study?

(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Eryurt's work at Goddard revealed some facts about the Sun that were not yet understood.

For instance, she observed that the brightness of the Sun had not increased - it had in fact decreased - since its formation 4.5 billion years ago, revealing that our nearest star was much brighter and warmer in the past.

Her studies influenced the course of the scientific and engineering research aims of space flights - a new and uncharted territory at the time.

In 1969 she was awarded the Apollo Achievement Award for contributions to the Apollo 11 mission. Today (20 July) marks 51 years since Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong and Michael Collins landed and walked on the moon.

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Aldrin and Armstrong spent a total of 21 hours and 36 minutes on the moon, but the Apollo 11 mission itself lasted a total of eight days, three hours, 18 min, and 35 seconds.

This is likely the reason Google have chosen today to celebrate Eryurt's life; her research provided NASA engineers with crucial information for modelling solar impact on the lunar environment

She later moved on to work at the California University, where she studied the formation and development of Main Sequence stars - a continuous band of stars that appear on plots of stellar colour versus brightness.

What else did she do?

Throughout her long and successful career, Eryurt became an award-winning astronomer, picking up all sorts of nods for her contributions and work.

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Other notable achievements of hers include the organising of Turkey's first National Astronomy Congress in 1968, and the establishment of the Astrophysics Department at the Middle East Technical University.

She retired in 1993 after a long career, and sadly died in September 2012 at the age of 85, suffering a heart attack in Ankara.

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