The Bruce Medalists


  Photo early 1950s, courtesy Prof. Chandrasekhar
Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar
19 October 1910 1952 Bruce Medalist 21 August 1995

S. Chandrasekhar was born in Lahore, India (now Pakistan) and received his B.A. at the University of Madras. At the University of Cambridge he earned his Ph.D. under noted physicist R.H. Fowler and developed the theory of white dwarf stars, showing that quantum mechanical degeneracy pressure cannot stabilize a massive star. He worked at the University of Chicago and its Yerkes Observatory from 1937 to 1995. He investigated and wrote important books on stellar structure and evolution, dynamical properties of star clusters and galaxies, radiative transfer of energy, hydrodynamic and hydromagnetic stability, the stability of ellipsoidal figures of equilibrium, and the mathematical theory of black holes. He also worked in relativistic astrophysics, and his last book was Newton's Principia for the Common Reader. He edited the Astrophysical Journal for nearly twenty years. He was known for his love of mathematical beauty and precision.

Presentation of Bruce medal
Struve, O., PASP 64, 55-61 (1952).

Other awards
American Academy of Arts & Sciences, Rumford prize, 1957.
American Astronomical Society, Henry Norris Russell lectureship, 1949.
Astronomische Gesellschaft, Karl Schwarzschild Medal, 1986.
Indian National Science Academy, Vainu Bappu Memorial Award, 1985.
International Center for Relativistic Astrophysics, Marcel Grossmann Award, 1994
National Academy of Sciences, Henry Draper Medal, 1971.
National Medal of Science, 1966.
National Radio Astronomy Observatory, Jansky Prize, 1978.
Nobel Foundation, Nobel prize, physics, 1983.
Royal Astronomical Society, Gold medal, 1953.
Royal Society, Copley Medal, 1984; Royal medal, 1962.

Biographical materials
Chandra X-ray Observatory
Chandrasekhar, S., Autobiography on receipt of Nobel Prize
Chandrasekhar, S., A Scientific Autobiography: S. Chandrasekhar: with selected correspondence, ed. by K.C. Wali (World Scientific, Singapore, 2011).
Horgan, John, “Confronting the Final Limit,” Profile, Scientific American 270, 32-33 (1994).
Parker, Eugene N., Biographical Memoirs of the National Academy of Sciences 72, 28-49 (1997).
Srinivasan, G., ed., From White Dwarfs to Black Holes: The Legacy of S. Chandrasekhar (University of Chicago Press, 1999). [Includes articles by Salpeter, Parker, Osterbrock, et al.]
University of Chicago Magazine, October 1995
Tayler, R.J., Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society of London 42, 79-94 (1996).
University of St. Andrews, The MacTutor History of Mathematics archive
Wali, Kameshwar C., Chandra (U of Chicago P, 1990).
Wali, Kameshwar C., ed., S. Chandrasekhar, the Man behind the Legend (Imperial College Press, London, 1997). [Contains reminiscences]
Wali, Kameshwar C., “Chandra: A Biographical Portrait,” Physics Today 63, 12, 38-43 (Dec. 2010). [Letters commenting on this article: Nauenberg, Michael, Physics Today 64 (7), 8 (2011); Blackman, Eric G., Physics Today 64 (7), 8-9 (2011); and rejoinder by Wali, Physics Today 64 (7), 9-10 (2011) (unabridged)]

many authors, Current Science 70, 780-822 (1996).
Abt, Helmut A., Ap.J. 454, 551 (1995). [solely on Chandra’s work as editor of the Astrophysical Journal]
DeVorkin, David, Bull. Am. Astron. Soc. 28, 1448 (1996) [brief, but with refs.]
Garstang, Roy, PASP 109, 73-77 (1997).
Heck, André, Orion 53, 323 (1995).
Lynden-Bell, Donald, QJRAS 37, 261-63 (1996).
McCrea, William H., Observatory 116, 121-24 (1996) [Comment by James W. Cronin].
Nityananda, R., Current Science 69, 554-56 (1995).
Osterbrock, Donald E., Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 142, 4, 657-65 (1998).
Parker, Eugene N., Physics Today 48, 11, 106. (1995).
Ramaseshan, S., “Chandrasekhar—Some Reminiscences,” Bulletin of the Astronomical Society of India 24, 537-550 (1996).
Srinivasan, G., ”A Profile of Chandra,” Current Science 70, 95-101 (1996).
Verheest, Frank, Ciel et Terre 112, 117-119 (1996). [in French]
Tributes by many authors

AIP Center for History of Physics
Friedman, Jon R., Portrait Sketch
Nelson, Harry N., University of California, Santa Barbara
Nemiroff, Robert & Jerry Bonnell, Astronomy Picture of the Day, 1 Sepember 1995
University of Frankfurt
University of California, San Diego

Named after him
Chandra X-Ray Observatory
Chandrasekhar limit
Minor Planet #1958 Chandra

More references

The Bruce Medalists

Please send comments, additions, corrections, and questions to