Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar (1910-1995).
Born in Lahore, then a part of British Colonial India, in 1910, theoretical
astrophysicist Chandrasekhar was elected to the Academy only two years after he became
a US citizen in 1953. Chandrasekhar was noted for his work in the field of stellar
evolution, and in the early 1930s he was the first to theorize that a collapsing massive
star would become an object so dense that not even light could escape it. Although this
finding was greeted with some skepticism at the time it was announced, it went on to form
the foundation of the theory of black holes, and eventually earned him a shared Nobel Prize
in physics for 1983. In addition to his work on star degeneration, Chandrasekhar contributed
important theorems on the stability of cosmic masses in the presence of gravitation, rotation,
and magnetic fields; this work proved to be crucial for the understanding of the spiral
structure of galaxies. From the time he came to the US in 1936 until his death in 1995,
Chandrasekhar was affiliated with the University of Chicago and its Yerkes Observatory.
Photograph courtesy of University of Chicago
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