Subramanyan Chandrasekhar

Born in Lahore, India, in 1910, theoretical astrophysicist Chandrasekhar was elected to the National Acadamy of Sciences (USA) only two years after he became a US citizen in 1953. Chandrasekhar was noted for his work in the field of stellar evolution, and in the early 1930s he was the first to theorize that a collapsing massive star would become an object so dense that not even light could escape it. Although this finding was greeted with some skepticism at the time it was announced, it went on to form the foundation of the theory of black holes, and eventually earned Chandrasekhar a shared Nobel Prize in physics for 1983.

Chandrashekhar estimated the limit (Chandrashekhar limit) on the size of a highly dense variety of star known as 'White Dwarf'. If this star's mass exceeds the limit, it explodes to become a bright supernova. He also made significant contributions to understanding the atmosphere of stars and the way matter and motion are distributed among the stars in the galaxy. Chandrashekar, who recieved the Nobel Prize in 1983, was honoured this year when the largest x-ray telescope aboard the US Space Shuttle was named 'Chandra Telescope'. In addition to his work on star degeneration, Chandrasekhar contributed important theorems on the stability of cosmic masses in the presence of gravitation, rotation, and magnetic fields; this work proved to be crucial for the understanding of the spiral structure of galaxies.

From the time he came to the US in 1936 until his death in 1995, Chandrasekhar was affiliated with the University of Chicago and its Yerkes Observatory. Chandrasekhar passed away in 1995. Dr. Chandrashekar is the nephew of another Nobel Prize winner Sir C.V. Raman.