Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar

Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar was one of the greatest scientists of India. He was an Indian-American astrophysicist. Chandrasekhar, with William A.  Fowler, was awarded the 1983 Nobel Prize for Physics for his mathematical theory of black holes, which was a key discovery that led to the currently accepted theory on the later evolutionary stages of massive stars. 

The Chandrasekhar limit is named after this greatest scientist.

Indian Scientist

Life of Chandrasekhar

Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar was born on 19 October 1910 at Lahore in Punjab to a Tamil family of Sitalakshmi and Chandrasekhara Subrahmanya. Chandrasekhar was the nephew of Indian physicist and Nobel laureate C V Raman. Chandrasekhar studied at Presidency College in Madras and University of Cambridge. 

Most of his career was spent at the University of Chicago. He also spent some time in its Yerkes Observatory and served as editor of the prestigious Astrophysical Journal. 

Chandrasekhar served at the University of Chicago as faculty from 1937 until his death. Chandrasekhar married Lalitha Doraiswamy in September 1936.  He became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1953. Chandrasekhar died of a sudden heart attack at the University of Chicago Hospital in 1995.

Career of Chandrasekhar

He worked in various areas in science, including theory of white dwarfs, stellar structure, stellar dynamics, theory of radiative transfer, hydrodynamic and hydromagnetic stability, quantum theory of the negative ion of Hydrogen, general relativity, equilibrium and the stability of ellipsoidal figures of equilibrium, mathematical theory of black holes and theory of colliding gravitational waves.

Chandrasekhar was recruited to the University of Chicago as Assistant Professor in January 1937. He remained at the university for his entire career. During World War II, Chandrasekhar worked at the Ballistic Research Laboratories at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland. From 1952 to 1971 Chandrasekhar was editor of The Astrophysical Journal.

Chandrasekhar's most notable work was the astrophysical Chandrasekhar limit. At the Cambridge University he developed a theoretical model explaining the structure of white dwarf stars that took into account the relativistic variation of mass with the velocities of electrons that comprise their degenerate matter. 

Chandrasekhar showed that the mass of a white dwarf could not exceed 1.44 times that of the Sun which forms the Chandrasekhar limit. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1983 for his studies on the physical processes important to the structure and evolution of stars.

In respect to this great scientist, NASA named the third of its four "Great Observatories" after Chandrasekhar in 1999. On July 23, 1999 the Chandra X-ray Observatory was launched and deployed by Space Shuttle Columbia. 

The Chandrasekhar number, an important dimensionless number of magnetohydrodynamics, is named after Chandrasekhar. The asteroid 1958 Chandra is also named after him.

Awards and honours of Chandrasekhar

Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar has been the recipient of many awards and honours for his contribution to science. He received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1983. He received the Fellow of the Royal Society in 1944 and the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1953. 

The government of India awarded him with the Padma Vibhushan in 1968. He received Copley Medal of the Royal Society in 1984 among many other prestigious awards.

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