Three researchers shared the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics for their discoveries about the black hole, one of the most exotic phenomena in the universe, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm announced on Tuesday.
The prize has been awarded with one half to Roger Penrose and the other half jointly to Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez.
“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 center of our galaxy. A supermassive black hole is the only currently known explanation,” said a press release from the academy.
“The discoveries of this year’s laureates have broken new ground in the study of compact and supermassive objects. 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,” David Haviland, chair of the Nobel Committee for Physics, was quoted by the release as saying.
Ghez, one of the laureates, said in the on-site telephone interview that she was very “thrilled” to receive the prize as a female laureate and that she took seriously the responsibility associated with the prize.
She emphasized that “science is critical to human beings” and “I feel passionate to teach younger generations the ability to question and think, which is crucial to the world.”
Ghez noted that it was first “doubt and excitement, a combination of things” that drove her in her researches.
“We still do not know what’s in the black hole. It’s part of the intrigue, which still pushes our understanding to the new world,” she said.
This year’s prize amount is 10 million Swedish kronor (about 1.12 million U.S. dollars), with one half to Penrose and the other half jointly to Genzel and Ghez.
Penrose, born in 1931, is a professor at University of Oxford.
Genzel, born in 1952, is the director at Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, Garching, Germany and a professor at University of California, Berkeley, the United States.
Ghez, born in 1965, is a professor at University of California, Los Angeles, the United States.