You can thank the guy honored in Thursday’s Google Doodle for everything we know about the life and death of stars and planets in space.

Google celebrates the birthday of Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, who is credited with bringing together the studies of physics and space to introduce the field of astrophysics. His theories on the evolution of stars were so revolutionary when he proposed them in the 1930s that they didn’t earned him a coveted Nobel Prize in Physics until 1983. Chandrasekhar was a child prodigy: He had a degree in physics and did his Nobel Prize-winning work all before he was 20.

It’s almost like India-born Chandrasekhar was born to be an astrophysicist. The guy went by “Chandra,” which actually translates to “moon” or “shine” in Sanskrit. Perhaps he saw his destiny in the stars he studied.

Chandra’s most notable theory is illustrated in the Google Doodle for his 107th birthday. The “Chandrasekhar limit” estimates the lowest mass a star could have — 1.4 times the mass of the sun — and still eventually become a supernova. If a star’s mass falls below this threshold, it will become a white dwarf when it collapses at the end of its life. If the star has a mass that is more than 1.4 times that of the sun, it could collapse and condense even further into this heavier state to form a black hole or a massive supernova explosion.

Google has honored some pretty great scientists and Nobel Prize winners in the past. Recently, they created a Doodle for Norwegian humanitarian and explorer Fridtjof Nansen.


Ever wonder how the Guardians travel so dang fast? Check out this video on an expert look at wormhole travel in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 as explained by a theoretical physicist.