Kerala Kaumudi Online
Thursday, 02 December 2021 6.40 AM IST

Three scientists share Nobel prize in physics for black hole research


STOCKHOLM: The Nobel Prize in Physics 2020 was jointly awarded to three scientists for their discoveries about one of the most exotic phenomena in the universe, the black hole.
The Nobel Assembly on Tuesday said in a tweet, "The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics with one half to Roger Penrose and the other half jointly to Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez."
Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez have been jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics "for the discovery of a supermassive compact object at the center of our galaxy", whereas Roger Penrose has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics "for the discovery that black hole formation is a robust prediction of the general theory of relativity."
Black holes are regions of space where gravity is so strong that not even light can escape from them. They are regions of space where matter has collapsed in on itself.
Genzel, who was born in 1952 in Bad Homburg vor der Hohe, Germany, is currently Director at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, Garching, Germany. He is also a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, USA.
Ghez, who jointly received the other half of the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics with Genzel, was born in 1965 in New York and currently is a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles.
In a statement, the Nobel Assembly said, "They discovered that an invisible and extremely heavy object governs the orbits of stars at the center of our galaxy for which, a supermassive black hole is the only currently known explanation."
"Using the world's largest telescopes, Genzel and Ghez developed methods to see through the huge clouds of interstellar gas and dust to the center of the Milky Way. Stretching the limits of technology, they refined new techniques to compensate for distortions caused by the Earth's atmosphere, building unique instruments and committing themselves to long-term research. Their pioneering work has given us the most convincing evidence yet of a supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way," The assembly added.
Penrose was born in 1931 in Colchester, UK, and is presently a professor at the University of Oxford.
The assembly said, "He invented ingenious mathematical methods to explore Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity. He showed that the theory leads to the formation of black holes, those monsters in time and space that capture everything that enters them.
The statement also highlighted, "In January 1965, ten years after Einstein's death, Roger Penrose proved that black holes really can form and described them in detail; at their heart, black holes hide a singularity in which all the known laws of nature cease. His groundbreaking article is still regarded as the most important contribution to the general theory of relativity since Einstein."
Speaking at the press conference where her Nobel Prize was announced, Ghez said, "I hope I can inspire other young women into the field. It's a field that has so many pleasures, and if you are passionate about the science, there's so much that can be done."
Ghez is the fourth woman to win the physics prize, out of more than 200 laureates since 1901. The other female recipients are Marie Curie, Maria Goeppert-Mayer and Donna Strickland - who won in 2018.
A prize amount of 10 million Swedish kronor is being awarded, with one half to Roger Penrose and the other half jointly to Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez.

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