Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar (1910- ), Indian-born American astrophysicist. His pioneering studies of the structure and evolution of stars won him the Nobel Prize in 1983. He showed that when the nuclear fuel of a star is exhausted, an inward gravitational collapse occurs, which will normally be halted by the outward pressure of the star's highly compressed and ionised gas. At this stage the star will have shrunk to become a dense white dwarf. The Chandrasekhar limit is the maximum mass possible for a white dwarf and is roughly equal to 1.4 solar masses. In stars above this limiting mass the gas pressure is insufficient to halt the gravitational collapse and a neutron star results.
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