top of page

One of the foremost astrophysicists of the 20th century, Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar has contributed to our understanding of black holes, stellar structure, white dwarfs, turbulence, general relativity, radiative transfer, and many more phenomena. These topics are comprehensively treated in a series of influential monographs as well as in research papers. Under his editorship, the Astrophysical Journal established a quality standard for publication that persists today.


He was born on October 10, 1910, in modern-day Punjab, Pakistan. The nephew of Indian physicist and Nobel laureate Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman, he received his undergraduate degree in physics from Presidency College and his master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Cambridge. He joined the University of Chicago faculty in 1937 and is thought to be the first faculty member in the Division from Southeast Asia. Though he faced racism from the dean at the beginning of his career, he was strongly supported by the people who hired him, President Robert Maynard Hutchins and astronomer Otto Struve. He remained at The University of Chicago for nearly 60 years.


One of his biggest discoveries happened early in his career, when he determined what is now known as the Chandrasekhar limit. This value states that when a star’s mass reaches 1.4 times that of the sun, it will collapse past the stage of a white dwarf and explode into a neutron star or black hole. Now accepted by the scientific community, his finding was controversial when he first calculated it. In 1983 he was named a Nobel laureate for this and other groundbreaking studies into the structure and evolution of the stars.

Read more:



Faculty member for nearly 60 years and Nobel laureate recognized for his advanced work in stellar structure and evolution

Sub. Chandra.jpeg

Photo Source: University of Chicago Photographic Archive, [apf1-01645], Hanna Holborn Gray Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library. 

bottom of page