|Died||21 August 1995 84) (aged|
|Residence||India, United States|
Lalitha Doraiswamy(m. 1936)
|Fields|| Astrophysics |
|Institutions|| University of Chicago |
Ballistic Research Laboratory
University of Cambridge
|Thesis||Polytropic distributions (1933)|
|Doctoral advisor|| Ralph H. Fowler |
Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar FRS ( // (
Fellowship of the Royal Society is an award granted to individuals that the Royal Society of London judges to have made a 'substantial contribution to the improvement of natural knowledge, including mathematics, engineering science and medical science'.
Indian Americans or Indo-Americans are Americans whose ancestry belongs to any of the many ethnic groups of the Republic of India. The U.S. Census Bureau uses the term Asian Indian to avoid confusion with the indigenous peoples of the Americas commonly referred to as American Indians.
William Alfred "Willy" Fowler was an American nuclear physicist, later astrophysicist, who, with Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar won the 1983 Nobel Prize in Physics. He is known for his theoretical and experimental research into nuclear reactions within stars and the energy elements produced in the process.
Chandrasekhar worked on a wide variety of physical problems in his lifetime, contributing to the contemporary understanding of stellar structure, white dwarfs, stellar dynamics, stochastic process, radiative transfer, the quantum theory of the hydrogen anion, hydrodynamic and hydromagnetic stability, turbulence, equilibrium and the stability of ellipsoidal figures of equilibrium, general relativity, mathematical theory of black holes and theory of colliding gravitational waves.At the University of Cambridge, 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. He showed that the mass of a white dwarf could not exceed 1.44 times that of the Sun – the Chandrasekhar limit. Chandrasekhar revised the models of stellar dynamics first outlined by Jan Oort and others by considering the effects of fluctuating gravitational fields within the Milky Way on stars rotating about the galactic centre. His solution to this complex dynamical problem involved a set of twenty partial differential equations, describing a new quantity he termed 'dynamical friction', which has the dual effects of decelerating the star and helping to stabilize clusters of stars. Chandrasekhar extended this analysis to the interstellar medium, showing that clouds of galactic gas and dust are distributed very unevenly.
Stars of different mass and age have varying internal structures. Stellar structure models describe the internal structure of a star in detail and make detailed predictions about the luminosity, the color and the future evolution of the star.
A white dwarf, also called a degenerate dwarf, is a stellar core remnant composed mostly of electron-degenerate matter. A white dwarf is very dense: its mass is comparable to that of the Sun, while its volume is comparable to that of Earth. A white dwarf's faint luminosity comes from the emission of stored thermal energy; no fusion takes place in a white dwarf wherein mass is converted to energy. The nearest known white dwarf is Sirius B, at 8.6 light years, the smaller component of the Sirius binary star. There are currently thought to be eight white dwarfs among the hundred star systems nearest the Sun. The unusual faintness of white dwarfs was first recognized in 1910. The name white dwarf was coined by Willem Luyten in 1922.
Stellar dynamics is the branch of astrophysics which describes in a statistical way the collective motions of stars subject to their mutual gravity. The essential difference from celestial mechanics is that each star contributes more or less equally to the total gravitational field, whereas in celestial mechanics the pull of a massive body dominates any satellite orbits.
Chandrasekhar studied at Presidency College, Madras (now Chennai) and the University of Cambridge. A long-time professor at the University of Chicago, he did some of his studies at the Yerkes Observatory, and served as editor of The Astrophysical Journal from 1952 to 1971. He was on the faculty at Chicago from 1937 until his death in 1995 at the age of 84, and was the Morton D. Hull Distinguished Service Professor of Theoretical Astrophysics.
Presidency College is an arts, law and science college in the city of Chennai in Tamil Nadu, India. Established as the Madras Preparatory School on 16 October 1840 and later, upgraded to a high school and then, graduate college, the Presidency College is one of the oldest government arts colleges in India. It is one of the two Presidency colleges established by the British in India, the other being the Presidency College, Kolkata.
Chennai is the capital of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Located on the Coromandel Coast off the Bay of Bengal, it is the biggest cultural, economic and educational centre of south India. According to the 2011 Indian census, it is the sixth most populous city and fourth-most populous urban agglomeration in India. The city together with the adjoining regions constitute the Chennai Metropolitan Area, which is the 36th-largest urban area by population in the world. Chennai is among the most visited Indian cities by foreign tourists. It was ranked the 43rd most visited city in the world for the year 2015. The Quality of Living Survey rated Chennai as the safest city in India. Chennai attracts 45 percent of health tourists visiting India, and 30 to 40 percent of domestic health tourists. As such, it is termed "India's health capital". As a growing metropolitan city in a developing country, Chennai confronts substantial pollution and other logistical and socio-economic problems.
The University of Chicago is a private research university in Chicago, Illinois. Founded in 1890 by John D. Rockefeller, the school is located on a 217-acre campus in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood, near Lake Michigan. The University of Chicago holds top-ten positions in various national and international rankings.
Chandrasekhar was born on 19 October 1910 in Lahore, Punjab, British India (now Pakistan) in a Tamil Hindu family,to Sitalakshmi (Divan Bahadur) Balakrishnan (1891–1931) and Chandrasekhara Subrahmanya Ayyar (1885–1960) who was stationed in Lahore as Deputy Auditor General of the Northwestern Railways at the time of Chandrasekhar's birth. He had two elder sisters, Rajalakshmi and Balaparvathi, three younger brothers, Vishwanathan, Balakrishnan, and Ramanathan and four younger sisters, Sarada, Vidya, Savitri, and Sundari. His paternal uncle was the Indian physicist and Nobel laureate C. V. Raman. His mother was devoted to intellectual pursuits, had translated Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House into Tamil and is credited with arousing Chandra's intellectual curiosity at an early age. The family moved from Lahore to Allahabad in 1916, and finally settled in Madras in 1918.
Lahore is a city in the Pakistani province of Punjab. Lahore is the country's second-most populous city after Karachi, and is one of Pakistan's wealthiest cities with an estimated GDP of $58.14 billion (PPP) as of 2015. Lahore is the largest city, and historic cultural centre of the Punjab region, and one of Pakistan's most socially liberal, progressive, and cosmopolitan cities.
Pakistan, officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, is a country in South Asia. It is the world’s sixth-most populous country with a population exceeding 212,742,631 people. In area, it is the 33rd-largest country, spanning 881,913 square kilometres. Pakistan has a 1,046-kilometre (650-mile) coastline along the Arabian Sea and Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by India to the east, Afghanistan to the west, Iran to the southwest, and China in the far northeast. It is separated narrowly from Tajikistan by Afghanistan's Wakhan Corridor in the northwest, and also shares a maritime border with Oman.
The Tamil people, also known as Tamilar, Tamilans or simply Tamils, are an ethnic group who speak the language Tamil as their mother tongue and trace their ancestry to Southern India and North-eastern Sri Lanka. Tamils, with a population of around 76 million and with a documented history stretching back over 2,000 years, are one of the largest and oldest extant ethnolinguistic groups in the modern world. Tamils constitute 5.9% of the population in India, 15.3% in Sri Lanka, 6% in Mauritius, 7% in Malaysia and 5% in Singapore.
Chandrasekhar was tutored at home until the age of 12.In middle school his father would teach him Mathematics and Physics and his mother would teach him Tamil. He later attended the Hindu High School, Triplicane, Madras during the years 1922–25. Subsequently, he studied at Presidency College, Madras from 1925 to 1930, writing his first paper, "The Compton Scattering and the New Statistics", in 1929 after being inspired by a lecture by Arnold Sommerfeld. He obtained his bachelor's degree, B.Sc. (Hon.), in physics, in June 1930. In July 1930, Chandrasekhar was awarded a Government of India scholarship to pursue graduate studies at the University of Cambridge, where he was admitted to Trinity College, Cambridge, secured by R. H. Fowler with whom he communicated his first paper. During his travels to England, Chandrasekhar spent his time working out the statistical mechanics of the degenerate electron gas in white dwarf stars, providing relativistic corrections to Fowler's previous work (see Legacy below).
Mathematics includes the study of such topics as quantity, structure, space, and change.
Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its motion, and behavior through space and time, and that studies the related entities of energy and force. Physics is one of the most fundamental scientific disciplines, and its main goal is to understand how the universe behaves.
Tamil is a Dravidian language predominantly spoken by the Tamil people of India and Sri Lanka, and by the Tamil diaspora, Sri Lankan Moors, Douglas, and Chindians. Tamil is an official language of two countries: Sri Lanka and Singapore and official language of the Indian state Tamil Nadu. It has official status in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and the Indian Union Territory of Puducherry. It is used as one of the languages of education in Malaysia, along with English, Malay and Mandarin. Tamil is spoken by significant minorities in the four other South Indian states of Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana and the Union Territory of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. It is one of the 22 scheduled languages of India.
In his first year at Cambridge, as a research student of Fowler, Chandrasekhar spent his time calculating mean opacities and applying his results to the construction of an improved model for the limiting mass of the degenerate star. At the meetings of the Royal Astronomical Society, he met E. A. Milne. At the invitation of Max Born he spent the summer of 1931, his second year of post-graduate studies, at Born's institute at Göttingen, working on opacities, atomic absorption coefficients, and model stellar photospheres. On the advice of P. A. M. Dirac, he spent his final year of graduate studies at the Institute for Theoretical Physics in Copenhagen, where he met Niels Bohr.
Opacity is the measure of impenetrability to electromagnetic or other kinds of radiation, especially visible light. In radiative transfer, it describes the absorption and scattering of radiation in a medium, such as a plasma, dielectric, shielding material, glass, etc. An opaque object is neither transparent nor translucent. When light strikes an interface between two substances, in general some may be reflected, some absorbed, some scattered, and the rest transmitted. Reflection can be diffuse, for example light reflecting off a white wall, or specular, for example light reflecting off a mirror. An opaque substance transmits no light, and therefore reflects, scatters, or absorbs all of it. Both mirrors and carbon black are opaque. Opacity depends on the frequency of the light being considered. For instance, some kinds of glass, while transparent in the visual range, are largely opaque to ultraviolet light. More extreme frequency-dependence is visible in the absorption lines of cold gases. Opacity can be quantified in many ways; for example, see the article mathematical descriptions of opacity.
The Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) is a learned society and charity that encourages and promotes the study of astronomy, solar-system science, geophysics and closely related branches of science. Its headquarters are in Burlington House, on Piccadilly in London. The society has over 4,000 members, termed Fellows, most of them professional researchers or postgraduate students. Around a quarter of Fellows live outside the UK. Members of the public who have an interest in astronomy and geophysics but do not qualify as Fellows may become Friends of the RAS.
Max Born was a German-Jewish physicist and mathematician who was instrumental in the development of quantum mechanics. He also made contributions to solid-state physics and optics and supervised the work of a number of notable physicists in the 1920s and 1930s. Born won the 1954 Nobel Prize in Physics for his "fundamental research in quantum mechanics, especially in the statistical interpretation of the wave function".
After receiving a bronze medal for his work on degenerate stars, in the summer of 1933, Chandrasekhar was awarded his PhD degree at Cambridge with a thesis among his four papers on rotating self-gravitating polytropes. On 9 October, he was elected to a Prize Fellowship at Trinity College for the period 1933–1937, becoming only the second Indian to receive a Trinity Fellowship after Srinivasa Ramanujan 16 years earlier. He had been so certain of failing to obtain the fellowship that he had already made arrangements to study under Milne that autumn at Oxford, even going to the extent of renting a flat there.
During this time, Chandrasekhar became acquainted with British physicist Sir Arthur Eddington. In an infamous encounter at the Royal Astronomical Society in London in 1935, Eddington publicly ridiculed the concept of the Chandrasekhar limit.Although Eddington would later be proved wrong by computers and the first positive identification of a black hole in 1972, this encounter caused Chandrasekhar to contemplate employment outside the UK. Later in life, on multiple occasions, Chandrasekhar expressed the view that Eddington's behavior was in part racially motivated.
In 1935, Chandrasekhar was invited by the Director of the Harvard Observatory, Harlow Shapley, to be a visiting lecturer in theoretical astrophysics for a three-month period. He travelled to the United States in December. During his visit to Harvard, Chandrasekhar greatly impressed Shapley, but declined his offer of a Harvard research fellowship. At the same time, Chandrasekhar met Gerald Kuiper, a noted Dutch astrophysical observationalist who was then a leading authority on white dwarfs. Kuiper had recently been recruited by Otto Struve, the Director of the Yerkes Observatory in Williams Bay, Wisconsin, which was run by the University of Chicago, and the university's President Robert Maynard Hutchins. Having known of Chandrasekhar, Struve was then considering him for one of three faculty posts in astrophysics, along with Kuiper; the other opening had been filled by Bengt Stromgren, a Danish theorist.Following a praise-filled recommendation from Kuiper, Struve invited Chandrasekhar to Yerkes in March 1936 and offered him the job. Though Chandrasekhar was keenly interested, he initially declined the offer and left for England; after Hutchins sent a radiogram to Chandrasekhar during the voyage, he finally accepted, returning to Yerkes as an Assistant Professor of Theoretical Astrophysics in December 1936.
Chandrasekhar remained at the University of Chicago for his entire career. He was promoted to associate professor in 1941 and to full professor two years later at just 33 years of age.In 1952, he became Morton D. Hull Distinguished Service Professor of Theoretical Astrophysics. In 1953, he and his wife, Lalitha Chandrasekhar, took American citizenship. Famously, Chandrasekhar declined many offers from other universities, including one to succeed Henry Norris Russell, the preeminent American astronomer, as director of the Princeton University Observatory.
After the Laboratory for Astrophysics and Space Research (LASR) was built by NASA in 1966 at the University, Chandrasekhar occupied one of the four corner offices on the second floor. (The other corners housed John A. Simpson, Peter Meyer, and Eugene N. Parker.) Chandrasekhar lived at 4800 Lake Shore Drive after the high-rise apartment complex was built in the late 1960s, and later at 5550 Dorchester Building.
During World War II, Chandrasekhar worked at the Ballistic Research Laboratory at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland. While there, he worked on problems of ballistics, resulting in reports such as 1943's On the decay of plane shock waves , Optimum height for the bursting of a 105mm shell , On the Conditions for the Existence of Three Shock Waves,and The normal reflection of a blast wave. Chandrasekhar's expertise in hydrodynamics led Robert Oppenheimer to invite him to join the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos, but delays in the processing of his security clearance prevented him from contributing to the project. It has been rumoured that he visited the Calutron project, where he suggested that young women be employed to operate the calutrons producing enriched radioactive materials for the atomic weapons.
He wrote that his scientific research was motivated by his desire to participate in the progress of different subjects in science to the best of his ability, and that the prime motive underlying his work was systematization. "What a scientist tries to do essentially is to select a certain domain, a certain aspect, or a certain detail, and see if that takes its appropriate place in a general scheme which has form and coherence; and, if not, to seek further information which would help him to do that."
Chandrasekhar developed a unique style of mastering several fields of physics and astrophysics; consequently, his working life can be divided into distinct periods. He would exhaustively study a specific area, publish several papers in it and then write a book summarizing the major concepts in the field. He would then move on to another field for the next decade and repeat the pattern. Thus he studied stellar structure, including the theory of white dwarfs, during the years 1929 to 1939, and subsequently focused on stellar dynamics, theory of Brownian motion from 1939 to 1943. Next, he concentrated on the theory of radiative transfer and the quantum theory of the negative ion of hydrogen from 1943 to 1950. This was followed by sustained work on turbulence and hydrodynamic and hydromagnetic stability from 1950 to 1961. In the 1960s, he studied the equilibrium and the stability of ellipsoidal figures of equilibrium, and also general relativity. During the period, 1971 to 1983 he studied the mathematical theory of black holes, and, finally, during the late 80s, he worked on the theory of colliding gravitational waves.
Chandra worked closely with his students and expressed pride in the fact that over a 50-year period (from roughly 1930 to 1980), the average age of his co-author collaborators had remained the same, at around 30. He insisted that students address him as "Chandrasekhar" until they received their Ph.D. degree, after which time they (as other colleagues) were encouraged to address him as "Chandra". When Chandrasekhar was working at the Yerkes Observatory in 1940s, he would drive 150 miles (240 km) to and fro every weekend to teach a course at the University of Chicago. Two of the students who took the course, Tsung-Dao Lee and Chen-Ning Yang, won the Nobel prize before he could get one for himself. Regarding classroom interactions during his lectures, noted astrophysicist Carl Sagan stated from firsthand experience that "frivolous questions" from unprepared students were "dealt with in the manner of a summary execution", while questions of merit "were given serious attention and response".
From 1952 to 1971 Chandrasekhar was editor of The Astrophysical Journal .When Eugene Parker submitted a paper on his discovery of solar wind in 1957, two eminent reviewers rejected the paper. However, since Chandra as an editor could not find any mathematical flaws in Parker's work, he went ahead and published the paper in 1958.
During the years 1990 to 1995, Chandrasekhar worked on a project devoted to explaining the detailed geometric arguments in Sir Isaac Newton's Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica using the language and methods of ordinary calculus. The effort resulted in the book Newton's Principia for the Common Reader, published in 1995. Chandrasekhar was an honorary member of the International Academy of Science.[ citation needed ]
Chandrasekhar married Lalitha Doraiswamy in September 1936. He had met her as a fellow student at Presidency College, Madras. Chandrasekhar was the nephew of C. V. Raman, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1930. He became a naturalized citizen of the U.S. in 1953. Many considered him as warm, positive, generous, unassuming, meticulous, and open to debate, while some others as private, intimidating, impatient and stubborn regarding non-scientific matters,and unforgiving to those who ridiculed his work.
Chandrasekhar died of a sudden heart attack at the University of Chicago Hospital in 1995, having survived a prior heart attack in 1975.He was survived by his wife, Lalitha Chandrasekhar, who died on 2 September 2013 at the age of 102. She was a serious student of literature and western classical music.
Once when involved in a discussion about the Gita, Chandrasekhar said, "I should like to preface my remarks with a personal statement in order that my later remarks will not be misunderstood. I consider myself an atheist."This was also confirmed many times in his other talks. In an interview with Kevin Krisciunas at the University of Chicago, on 6 October 1987, Chandrasekhar commented: "Of course, he (Otto Struve) knew I was an atheist, and he never brought up the subject with me".
Chandrasekhar was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1983 for his studies on the physical processes important to the structure and evolution of stars. Chandrasekhar accepted this honor, but was upset the citation mentioned only his earliest work, seeing it as a denigration of a lifetime's achievement. He shared it with William A. Fowler.
Chandrasekhar's most notable work is on the astrophysical Chandrasekhar limit. The limit gives the maximum mass of a white dwarf star, ~1.44 solar masses, or equivalently, the minimum mass that must be exceeded for a star to collapse into a neutron star or black hole (following a supernova). The limit was first calculated by Chandrasekhar in 1930 during his maiden voyage from India to Cambridge, England for his graduate studies. In 1979, NASA named the third of its four "Great Observatories" after Chandrasekhar. This followed a naming contest which attracted 6,000 entries from fifty states and sixty-one countries. The Chandra X-ray Observatory was launched and deployed by Space Shuttle Columbia on 23 July 1999. The Chandrasekhar number, an important dimensionless number of magnetohydrodynamics, is named after him. The asteroid 1958 Chandra is also named after Chandrasekhar. The Himalayan Chandra Telescope is named after him. In the Biographical Memoirs of the Fellows of the Royal Society of London, R. J. Tayler wrote: "Chandrasekhar was a classical applied mathematician whose research was primarily applied in astronomy and whose like will probably never be seen again."
Chandrasekhar guided 45 students to their PhDs.After his death, his widow Lalitha Chandrasekhar made a gift of his Nobel Prize money to the University of Chicago towards the establishment of the Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar Memorial Fellowship. First awarded in the year 2000, this fellowship is given annually to an outstanding applicant to graduate school in the PhD programs of the Department of Physics or the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics.
The Chandra Astrophysics Institute (CAI) is a program offered for high school students who are interested in astrophysics mentored by MIT scientistsand sponsored by the Chandra X-ray Observatory. American astronomer Carl Sagan, who studied mathematics under Chandrasekhar at the University of Chicago, praised him in the book The Demon-Haunted World : "I discovered what true mathematical elegance is from Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar." On 19 October 2017, Google showed a Google Doodle in 28 countries honouring Chandrasekhar's 107th birthday and the Chandrasekhar limit.
In 2010, on account of Chandra's 100th birthday, University of Chicago conducted a symposium titled Chandrasekhar Centennial Symposium 2010 which was attended by leading astrophysicists such as Roger Penrose, Kip Thorne, Freeman Dyson, Jayant V. Narlikar, Rashid Sunyaev, G. Srinivasan, and Clifford Will. Its research talks were published in 2011 as a book titled Fluid flows to Black Holes: A tribute to S Chandrasekhar on his birth centenary.
Chandrasekhar published around 380 papersin his lifetime. He wrote his first paper in 1928 when he was still an undergraduate student about Compton effect and last paper which was accepted for publication just two months before his death was in 1995 which was about non-radial oscillation of stars. The University of Chicago Press published selected papers of Chandrasekhar in seven volumes.
Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington was an English astronomer, physicist, and mathematician of the early 20th century who did his greatest work in astrophysics. He was also a philosopher of science and a populariser of science. The Eddington limit, the natural limit to the luminosity of stars, or the radiation generated by accretion onto a compact object, is named in his honour.
The Chandrasekhar limit is the maximum mass of a stable white dwarf star. The currently accepted value of the Chandrasekhar limit is about 1.4 M☉ (2.765×1030 kg).
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The Astrophysical Journal, often abbreviated ApJ in references and speech, is a peer-reviewed scientific journal of astrophysics and astronomy, established in 1895 by American astronomers George Ellery Hale and James Edward Keeler. The journal discontinued its print edition and became an electronic-only journal in 2015.
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Black Holes & Time Warps: Einstein's Outrageous Legacy is a 1994 popular science book by physicist Kip Thorne. It provides an illustrated overview of the history and development of black hole theory, from its roots in Newtonian mechanics until the early 1990s.
Jacob Robert Emden was a Swiss astrophysicist and meteorologist. He is best known for his book, Gaskugeln: Anwendungen der mechanischen Wärmetheorie auf kosmologische und meteorologische probleme, published in 1907. It presents a mathematical model of the behaviour of polytropic gaseous stellar objects under the influence their own gravity, known as the Lane-Emden equation.
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to black holes:
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Kameshwar C. Wali is the Distinguished Research Professor of Physics Emeritus at Syracuse University's College of Arts and Sciences. He is a specialist in high energy physics, particularly symmetries and dynamics of elementary particles, and as the author of Chandra: A Biography of S. Chandrasekhar and Cremona Violins: a physicist's quest for the secrets of Stradivari.
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SC: I am not religious in any sense; in fact, I consider myself an atheist.