If it wasn't for the work of Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, the cosmos would still be a mystery. Sorry, Neil deGrasse Tyson fans, before that guy became pop culture's favorite astrophysicist, there was Chandrasekhar, the first person to win a Nobel Prize in Physics for a topic relating to the stars.
Born in 1910, Google is recognizing the astro superstar's 107th birthday with a doodle celebrating his work with our sun and its relation to other stars in the universe. The animated doodle shows a star on a scale, countered by the figure 1.4. It's a simplified way to show the Chandrasekhar limit, which states that "when a star’s mass is lighter than 1.4 times that of the sun, it eventually collapses into a denser stage called a 'white dwarf.' When heavier than 1.4, a white dwarf can continue to collapse and condense, evolving into a black hole or a supernova explosion."
That measure earned Chandrasekhar the Nobel Prize and set the groundwork for the study of black holes and stars' processes and evolution. Originally published in the '30s — when Chandrasekhar was barely 20 years old — the findings met a tepid reception, but further research and discoveries caught the attention of the U.S. National Academy of Science and the Royal Astronomical Society, both of which bestowed honors on Chandrasekhar. It was a family affair, too, because before he won the Nobel Prize in the '80s, his uncle, Sir Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman, took home the same prize for his work with light.
Today's Google Doodle will be available to the United States, parts of South America, and India, where Chandrasekhar was born. Google calls him the "original starman" and it's tough to argue that point. Without his work, the mysteries of space would be just that.
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