CHANDRA: The Man Behind The Name
NASA's premier X-ray observatory was named the Chandra X-ray Observatory
in honor of the late Indian-American Nobel laureate, Subrahmanyan
Chandrasekhar. Known to the world as Chandra (which means "moon" or
"luminous" in Sanskrit), he was widely regarded as one of the foremost
astrophysicists of the twentieth century.
Chandra in his
Chandra immigrated in 1937 from India to the United States, where he
joined the faculty of the University of Chicago, a position he remained
at until his death. He and his wife became American citizens in 1953.
evolution of a star such as the sun.
When the nuclear energy source in the center of a star such as the sun
is exhausted, it collapses to form a white dwarf. This discovery is
basic to much of modern astrophysics, since it shows that stars much
more massive than the sun must either explode or form black holes
Chandra in his middle years
Trained as a physicist at Presidency College, in Madras, India and at
the University of Cambridge, in England, he was one of the first
scientists to combine the disciplines of physics and astronomy. Early
in his career he demonstrated that there is an upper limit – now called
the Chandrasekhar limit – to the mass of a white dwarf star. A white
dwarf is the last stage in the |
In 1983, Chandra was awarded the Nobel
prize for his theoretical studies of the physical processes important to
the structure and evolution of stars.
|Chandra was a popular teacher who guided over fifty students to their
Ph.D.s. His research explored nearly all branches of theoretical
astrophysics and he published ten books, each covering a different
topic, including one on the relationship between art and science. For
19 years, he served as editor of the Astrophysical Journal and turned it
into a world-class publication. ||
Chandra in his later years
According to Nobel laureate Hans Bethe, "Chandra was a first-rate
astrophysicist and a beautiful and warm human being. I am happy to have
|1910 Oct 19|| Born in Lahore to Sita Balakrishnan and
Chandrasekhara Subrahmanya Ayyar.|
|1918 || Moved to Madras
|1925-1930 || B.Sc. Physics student at Presidency College, Madras|
|1929-1939 || 1: Studies of White Dwarf Stars|
|1930-1933 || Ph.D. student at Cambridge, under R.H. Fowler|
|1931-1932 || Papers on white dwarf stars|
|1935 Jan 11 || Battle with Eddington at the RAS|
|1936 Sep ||Married Lalitha Doraiswamy|
|1937 Jan || Moved to Yerkes Observatory, University of Chicago|
|1939 || Publishes Introduction to the Study of Stellar Structure|
|1938-1943 || 2: Studies of Stellar Dynamics |
|1942 || Publishes Principles of Stellar Dynamics|
|1943-1950 || 3: Studies of Radiative Transfer|
|1950 || Publishes Radiative Transfer|
|1952 || Editor of Ap.J. (till 1971)|
|1952-1961 || 4: Studies of Hydrodynamic and Hydromagnetic Stability|
|1961 || Publishes Hydrodynamic and Hydromagnetic Stability|
|1961-1968 || 5: Studies of Figures of Equilibrium |
|1968 || Publishes Ellipsoidal Figures of Equilibrium|
|1962-1971 || 6: Studies of GR and Relativistic Astrophysics|
|1974-1983 ||7: Studies of the Mathematical Theory of Black Holes|
|1983 || Publishes The Mathematical Theory of Black Holes|
|1983 || Nobel prize for physics|
|1995 Aug 21 ||Died in Chicago|
Some of Chandra's key papers on dense matter and relativity
The following list is taken from Chandra's own summary
http://www.nobel.se/laureates/physics-1983.html For more information on Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, read his autobiography there.
'The highly collapsed configurations of a stellar mass', Mon. Not. Roy.
Astron. Soc., 91, 456-66 (1931).
'The maximum mass of ideal white dwarfs', Astrophys. J., 74, 81 - 2 (1931).
'The density of white dwarfstars', Phil. Mag., 11, 592 - 96 (1931).
'Some remarks on the state of matter in the interior of stars', Z. f. Astrophysik,
5, 321-27 (1932).
'The physical state of matter in the interior of stars', Observatory, 57,
93 - 9 (1934)
'Stellar configurations with degenerate cores', Observatory, 57, 373 - 77
'The highly collapsed configurations of a stellar mass' (second paper),
Mon. Not. Roy. Astron. Soc., 95, 207 - 25 (1935).
'Stellar configurations with degenerate cores', Mon. Not. Roy. Astron. Soc.,
95, 226-60 (1935).
'Stellar configurations with degenerate cores' (second paper), Mon. Not.
Roy. Astron. Soc., 95, 676 - 93 (1935).
'The pressure in the interior of a star', Mon. Not. Roy. Astron. Soc., 96,
644 - 47 (1936).
'On the maximum possible central radiation pressure in a star of a given
mass', Observatory, 59, 47 - 8 (1936).
'Dynamical instability of gaseous masses approaching the Schwarzschild limit
in general relativity', Phys. Rev. Lett., 12, 114 - 16 (1964); Erratum,
Phys. Rev. Lett., 12, 437 - 38 (1964).
'The dynamical instability of the white-dwarf configurations approaching
the limiting mass' (with Robert F. Tooper), Astrophys. J., 139, 1396 - 98
'The dynamical instability of gaseous masses approaching the Schwarzschild
limit in general relativity', Astrophys. J., 140, 417 - 33 (1964).
'Solutions of two problems in the theory of gravitational radiation', Phys.
Rev. Lett., 24, 611 - 15 (1970); Erratum, Phys. Rev. Lett., 24, 762 (1970).
'The effect of gravitational radiation on the secular stability of the Maclaurin
spheroid', Astrophys. J., 161, 561 - 69 (1970).