2020 Nobel Prize for Physics awarded for black hole discovery

The 2020 Nobel Prize for Physics has been awarded to three scientists for their works related to black hole discoveries. Scientists Roger Penrose, Reinhard Genzel, and Andrea Ghez will share one of the world’s most coveted awards.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences received the award. The said award is worth 10 million Swedish kronor (more than $1.1 million) and a gold medal.

The scientists and their discoveries

Roger Penrose, 89, is a mathematical physicist at the University of Oxford. He received half of the Nobel Prize for his work based on Einstein’s general theory of relativity.

Einstein had predicted that black holes exist, but he said in a paper published in 1939 that this may not be in physical reality. Penrose proved in 1965 mathematically that black holes are a consequence of relativity theory.

Further, he worked with Stephen Hawking and strengthened the Big Bang theory. He has worked more dedicatedly on the “singularities.” These are points of infinite density, found in the center of black holes.

Martin Rees, the British astronomer royal, said, “Sadly, this award was too much delayed to allow Hawking to share the credit.” Nobel Prize, notedly, is only awarded to those who are still alive.

Reinhard Genzel is a German astrophysicist, Director of the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics. He is also a professor at the University of California, Berkley.

Andrea Ghez is an American who works at the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of California, Los Angeles. She is the fourth woman to win Nobel Prize for physics.

Genzel and Ghez share the other half of the prize for their discovery of a supermassive black hole, known as Sagittarius A*, at the center of our galaxy, Milky Way. Both of them led two separate teams in the 1990s when Ghez got the first image through Keck Telescope in Hawaii.

Later, Genzel got a similar image, working with an array of telescopes at the European Southern Observatory in Chile.

Genzel and Ghez showed that the black hole is a reality and not just a work of science fiction.

Application of these discoveries

The discovery of the black hole does not have any practical application. However, it forms the basis for many future researchers around the world. Also, it is not common for theoretical studies to get recognized by the Nobel Committee.

Dr. Ziri Younsi, of University College London, an expert on black holes, said:

It is wonderful to see the fundamentally important theoretical and observational work of these laureates recognized by the Nobel committee.

Image courtesy of Vadim Sadovski/Shutterstock

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