Published: Thu, October 19, 2017
Science | By Hubert Green

S. Chandrasekhar's 107th Birthday

S. Chandrasekhar's 107th Birthday

Thursday's Google Doodle celebrates what would have been the 107th birthday of Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, an Indian astrophysicist famous for his theory on the evolution of stars.

Chandrasekhar, born in Lahore (now Pakistan) on October 19, 1910, was one of 10 children born to C Subrahmanyan Ayyar who worked with the Northwestern Railways.

"The limit explains that when a star's mass is lighter than 1.4 times that of the sun, it eventually collapses into a denser stage called a 'white dwarf".

Chandrasekhar's early work was met with scorn from the scientific community but the went on to win the National Medal of Science, the Draper Medal of the US National Academy of Science and the gold medal of the Royal Astronomical Society.

S Chandrasekhar won the Physics Nobel Prize in 1983 along with William A. Fowler.

The Indian astrophysicist also studied in Presidency College, Madras, before going to Cambridge.

According to the theory, the mass of a white dwarf could not exceed 1.44 times that of the Sun.

S Chandrasekhar was the nephew of Sir Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman or CV Raman, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1930.

Some of the most massive stars explode into a supernova and then collapse down into neutron stars, or black holes.

Before Chandrasekhar, scientists assumed that all stars collapsed into white dwarfs when they died.

In his honour, Google is changing its logo in 28 countries to a doodle, or illustration, of him and the Chandrasekhar limit.

While traveling to England to study at the prestigious Cambridge University, he came up with one of the most important findings of astrophysics - the Chandrasekhar limit, a concept that helps to calculate what happens to stars after they use up all of their nuclear fuel and die. In 1937, Chandra immigrated from India to the United States.

Chandrasekhar was a popular teacher who guided over 50 students to their PhDs. Chandra's name was also given to one of NASA's space telescopes, which observes X-ray emission from hot parts of the Universe.

He had a passionate interest in literature and classical music, choosing as the subject for a 1975 all-university lecture: "Shakespeare, Newton and Beethoven or Patterns of Creativity".

British astronomer RJ Tayler paid tribute to Chandrasekhar in the Biographical Memoirs of the Fellows of the Royal Society of London.

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