Chandrasekhar, S. (Subrahmanyan), 1910-1995

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Astrophysicist. B.A., Presidency College, Madras University, 1930. Ph. D., Cambridge University, 1933; Sc. D., 1942. Research Associate, Yerkes Observatory, University of Chicago, 1937. Assistant Professor, University of Chicago, 1938; Associate Professor, 1942; Professor, 1944; Distinguished Service Professor, 1946; Morton D. Hull Distinguished Service Professor of Theoretical Astrophysics, 1952. Managing editor, Astrophysical Journal, 1952-1971. Nobel Prize in Physics, 1983.

From the description of Papers, 1928-1995. (University of Chicago Library). WorldCat record id: 52246521

Chandrasekhar died in 1995.

From the description of Edward Arthur Milne: Recollections and reflections, 1976. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 82391833

Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, astrophysicist, was born October 19, 1910, in Lahore, India (now Pakistan). Originally from southern India, his family returned to Madras in 1918, where Chandrasekhar received most of his schooling. He received a B.A. honors degree from Presidency College, Madras University, in 1930, and Ph.D. and Sc.D. degrees from Cambridge University in 1933 and 1942. While at Cambridge he studied with R. H. Fowler, P. A. M. Dirac, and E. A. Milne, and also spent periods of time with Niels Bohr in Copenhagen and Max Born at Göttingen. He was appointed a Fellow of Trinity College in 1933. In 1936 Chandrasekhar traveled to the U.S. to give lectures at Harvard College Observatory and at Yerkes Observatory of the University of Chicago. Offered positions at both places, he decided to accept the offer from Chicago. He returned to India briefly that year, and in September was married to Lalitha Doraiswamy, a former classmate at Presidency College.

Chandrasekhar came to Yerkes Observatory in January 1937 as a Research Associate. He was made an Assistant Professor in 1938, Associate Professor in 1942, Professor in 1944, and Distinguished Service Professor in 1946. In 1952 he was named Morton D. Hull Distinguished Service Professor of Theoretical Astrophysics. His appointment was expanded to include not only the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics but also the Department of Physics and the Enrico Fermi Institute of Nuclear Studies. Chandrasekhar also accepted the position of managing editor of the Astrophysical Journal in 1952, and served in that capacity until 1971. His duties often required him to commute from Yerkes to the University campus for several days each week, which he did until 1964 when he moved his permanent residence to Chicago. Although offered positions at other universities many times, he remained at the University of Chicago throughout his career, and continued to teach and do research well past normal retirement age.

Early in the 1930s Chandrasekhar developed a theory concerning white dwarf stars, combining Fowler's use of the new quantum statistics with special relativity. He derived the so-called "Chandrasekhar limit," which set a maximum mass beyond which a star could not remain at the white dwarf stage, but would continue collapsing indefinitely. The theory drew immediate and intense opposition from Arthur S. Eddington and other astronomers, and was not fully accepted until over 20 years later, when it became one of the key elements in the formation of ideas concerning neutron stars and black holes. Frustrated by the negative response to his work, but certain of its correctness, Chandrasekhar wrote up his research and published it as An Introduction to the Study of Stellar Structures (1939) then moved on to other topics.

A pattern emerged in Chandrasekhar's work, of researching a subject, writing a series of articles, compiling a book, then changing fields, roughly every 10 years. This, combined with his position on the editorial staff of the Astrophysical Journal, gave him a breadth of knowledge and interest. The contributions Chandrasekhar made to various fields can be seen from the titles of his books: Principles of Stellar Dynamics (1942); Radioactive Transfer (1950); Hydrodynamic and Hydromagnetic Stability (1961); Ellipsoidal Figures of Equilibrium (1969); The Mathematical Theory of Black Holes (1983); and Eddington: The Most Distinguished Astrophysicist of His Time (1983).

Among the many citations Chandrasekhar received are the Bruce Gold Medal of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society of London, the Rumford Prize of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Royal Medal of the Royal Society of London, the National Medal of Science of the United States, and the Padma Vibhushan award of India. In 1983 Chandrasekhar was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics.

From the guide to the Chandrasekhar, Subrahmanyan. Papers, 1928-1995, (Special Collections Research Center University of Chicago Library 1100 East 57th Street Chicago, Illinois 60637 U.S.A.)

Archival Resources
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creatorOf Chandrasekhar, Subrahmanyan. Papers, 1928-1995 Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library,
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creatorOf Chandrasekhar, S. (Subrahmanyan), 1910-. Oral history interview with Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, 1987 October 6. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Chapman, Sydney, 1888-1970. Festschrift material [microform], 1968. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
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creatorOf Chandrasekhar, S. (Subrahmanyan), 1910-. Holograph manuscripts, 1931-1938. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
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referencedIn Greenstein, Jesse L. (Jesse Leonard), 1909-2002. Oral history interview with Jesse Leonard Greenstein, 1977 April 7 to 1978 May 19. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
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referencedIn Van de Kamp, Peter, 1901-. Dedication of McDonald Observatory at Fort Davis, Texas [motion picture] / taken by Peter Van de Kamp. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Papers and correspondence of Edward Arthur Milne, 1896-1950, 1916-1976 Department of Western Manuscripts, Bodleian Library, University of Oxford
referencedIn Spitzer, Lyman, 1914-1997. Oral History interview with Lyman Spitzer, 1991 November 27. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
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referencedIn Kozyrev, Aleksei Aleksandrovich, 1916-1989. Oral history interview with Aleksei Aleksandrovich Kozyrev, 1987 December. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
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creatorOf Angell, Norman, 1874-1967. Gilbert F. White papers, 1942-1957. Haverford College Library
creatorOf Chandrasekhar, S. (Subrahmanyan), 1910-. Oral history interview with S. Chandrasekhar, 1977 May 17 to October 31. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn History of Modern Astrophysics Collection, 1849-1979 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Ambart︠s︡umi︠a︡n, V. A. (Viktor Amazaspovich). Oral history interview with V. A. Ambartsumian, 1987 October 2. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
creatorOf Chandrasekhar, S. (Subrahmanyan), 1910-. Letter to Gerard Peter Kuiper congratulating him on his recent astronomical discovery, 1944. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
creatorOf Gibbs Symposium (1989 : Yale University). Records of the Gibbs Symposium, 1964-1989 (inclusive). Yale University Library
referencedIn Unsöld, Albrecht, 1905-. Oral history interview with Albrecht Unsöld, 1984 February 24. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
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Place Name Admin Code Country
Subject
Interstellar matter
Dwarf stars
Black holes (Astronomy)--Research
Astronomy--Study and teaching
General relativity (Physics)
Physicists--Biography
Stellar atmospheres
Astronomy
Astrophysics
Hydrodynamics
Nobel prizes
Magnetohydrodynamics
Radiative transfer
Theoretical physics
Stochastic processes
Cosmology
Astrophysicists
Occupation
Biography
Physicists
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Birth 1910-10-19

Death 1995-08-21

Americans

English

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