The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences on Tuesday awarded the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics to Roger Penrose for black hole discovery and Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez for discovering a supermassive compact object at the centre of galaxy. One half of the prize was given to Penrose and the other half jointly to Genzel and Ghez, the jury said.
“Three Laureates share this year’s Nobel Prize in Physics for their discoveries about one of the most exotic phenomena in the universe, the black hole,” a statement on the Nobel Prize website said. “Roger Penrose showed that the general theory of relativity leads to the formation of black holes. Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez discovered that an invisible and extremely heavy object governs the orbits of stars at the centre of our galaxy. A supermassive black hole is the only currently known explanation.”
The press release said that Penrose “used ingenious mathematical methods” in his proof that black holes are a direct consequence of Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity. He made this discovery in January 1965, describing black holes in detail, the statement added.
The press release also said that using he world’s largest telescopes, Genzel and Ghez developed methods to see through the clouds of interstellar gas and dust to the centre of the Milky Way. They refined new techniques and built new instruments. They provided the most convincing evidence so far of a supermassive black hole at the centre of the Milky Way.
“The discoveries of this year’s Laureates have broken new ground in the study of compact and supermassive objects,” David Haviland, chairperson of the Nobel Committee for Physics said. “But these exotic objects still pose many questions that beg for answers and motivate future research. Not only questions about their inner structure, but also questions about how to test our theory of gravity under the extreme conditions in the immediate vicinity of a black hole.”