An astrophysicist who did revolutionary work on the life and death of stars is honored today (Oct. 19) on the front page of Google.
Subramanyan Chandrasekhar, an Indian-born astrophysicist who spent most of his professional career on the faculty of the University of Chicago, is the subject of an animated Google Doodle. Chandrasekhar did theoretical work on stellar evolution, and showed that what happens after the star dies is largely determined by its mass. Midsize stars like Earth's sun form white dwarfs, but very massive stars can form black holes. That work is hinted at in the Google Doodle, which shows a smiling star hopping up on and down on a weight scale before exploding.
"A child prodigy, Chandra published his first paper and developed his theory of star evolution before turning 20," according to a post on the Google Doodle website. "By age 34, he was elected to the Royal Society of London, and soon after, became a distinguished service professor of physics."
Chandrasekhar was awarded the Nobel Prize in physics in 1983 for his work examining the life and eventual demise of stars. In 1999, NASA launched the Chandra X-ray Observatory, named after Chandrasekhar. (He went by the nickname "Chandra," which means "moon" or "luminous" in Sanskrit.).
The Chandra telescope is a massive, sophisticated X-ray instrument that has made it possible for scientists to conduct detailed studies of the remnants of exploded stars (among other things).
Chandrasekhar, who died in 1995, would have been 107 years old today.