Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar

Most Popular

Lahore, British India
Birth Sign
Lahore, British India

Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar was an Indian-American astronomer who shared the Nobel Prize in Physics with William A. Fowler for his mathematical theory of black holes. His work encompassed stellar structure, radiative transmission, white dwarfs, quantum theory, hydrodynamic stability, and mathematical theory of black holes, among others. Born in Lahore, Punjab, Chandrasekhar was expected to follow in his father’s footsteps and enter government service. Unexpectedly, the little child was drawn to science and scientific interests. Sir C. V. Raman, the youngster’s paternal uncle, had already made the country proud by winning the Nobel Prize for Physics. He was a brilliant student who won a Government of India scholarship to Cambridge. He became famous for the ‘Chandrasekhar Limit’. He preferred to be called Chandra.

Early Childhood of Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar

Chandrasekhar was one of ten children born to Chandrasekhara Subrahmanya and Sitalakshmi in Punjab, India. His father was the Northwestern Railways Deputy Auditor General at the time.
As the eldest of four sons, he was expected to work for the government. Sir C. V. Raman, Chandra’s paternal uncle, inspired him to study science.

Between 1922 until 1925, he attended the Hindu High School in Madras. In 1925, he joined at Madras’ Presidency College, where he wrote his first article, ‘The Compton Scattering and the New Statistics’.
Following his B.SC. (Hon.) in Physics, he was offered a Government of India scholarship to study at Cambridge.

During his time in England, he grew fascinated by white dwarf stars. He began studying the degenerate electron gas in white dwarfs.
He went to the Royal Astronomical Society meetings and met Professor E.A. Milne. Max Born asked him to spend 1931 at the Born Institute at Gottingen.

After studying opacities and star photospheres at Born’s Institute, he spent his last year at the Institute for Theoretical Physics in Copenhagen.
In 1933, he received his PhD from Cambridge and was awarded a Prize Fellowship at Trinity College for 1933–37.

A Career of Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar

In January 1937, Dr. Otto Struve and President Robert Maynard Hutchins recommended him as an Assistant Professor at the University of Chicago.
Chandrasekhar spent his entire career at the University of Chicago. Associate professor 1942, full professor 1944.

He was named Distinguished Service Professor of Theoretical Astrophysics in 1947 and emeritus in 1985.
From 1952 to 1971, he was editor of ‘The Astrophysical Journal,’ which he turned into a National Journal of the American Astronomical Society.

During his career, he worked at the University of Chicago and then at NASA’s Laboratory for Astrophysics and Space Research.
Even in his final years, he was constantly busy pursuing new scientific goals. In 1990, he began working on a project on Sir Isaac Newton’s “Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica”.

Grandiose of Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar

With his ‘Chandrasekhar Limit’ discovery, he established that there is a maximum mass that can be held against gravity by electrons and nuclei pressure. The most astonishing part is that he made this discovery while still a student.

Honors & Awards

In 1968, he was awarded the Padma Vibushan, India’s second highest civilian accolade, for his outstanding contributions to science.
He shared the 1983 Nobel Prize in Physics with William A. Fowler for his work on star structure and evolution. It bothered him because it only addressed his early efforts and not his subsequent ones.

Personal Legacy of Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar

He met Lalitha Doraiswamy at Madras’ Presidency College and the two had a close friendship that grew into love. They married in September 1936 and had a long and happy marriage. They had no kids.
He died of a heart attack in 1995, leaving his long-time wife.

Estimated Net Worth

Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar’s net worth is believed to be between $1 and $7 million. His principal work as a Physicist has made him quite wealthy.