Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar

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Stood by astrophysicist Parker

How Chandrasekhar laid foundation for solar probe, August 14, 2018: The Times of India

Mankind’s first mission to ‘touch’ the sun may have panned out differently had it not been for Indian-American astrophysicist Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, whose intervention made it possible for a research paper proposing the existence of solar wind to get published.

The sun-skimming probe that lifted off from the US is set to study the ‘solar winds’ proposed in the paper by astrophysicist Eugene Newman Parker. Back in 1958, when Parker suggested that the charged particles streamed continuously from the sun and fill up the space, the scientific community refused to believe him.

The prevailing opinion at the time was that the space was total vacuum. “When he submitted his paper detailing his theory to the Astrophysical Journal it was rejected twice by two different reviewers who were asked to provide opinions,” Dibyendu Nandi, an associate professor at Indian Institute of Science Education and Research Kolkata, said.

“The senior editor of the Astrophysical Journal intervened and overruled the reviewers and allowed the idea to be published. That editor was the Indian-American astrophysicist Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar,” said Nandi.

Chandrasekhar was awarded the 1983 Nobel Prize for Physics with William A Fowler for studies of the physical processes of importance to the structure and evolution of the stars.

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