Two Studies on Black Holes Earn the Nobel 2020 for Physics

Each Laureate contributed greatly to our understanding of the black holes with their groundbreaking work.
Utku Kucukduner

This year's Nobel Prize in Physics has been awarded to three Laureates for their discoveries on black holes. While the award is jointly given to three Laureates, there are actually two studies holding the title.

The first one by Roger Penrose demonstrated that the general theory of relativity is associated with the black hole formation.

The second one by Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez revealed that an extremely heavy yet invisible object in the center of our galaxy orchestrates the orbit of stars in it. The data we have suggests that a supermassive black hole is the only possible explanation.


'Uncovering the secrets in the darkest corners of our universe'

Roger Penrose utilized mathematical methods to prove that the black holes are a direct consequence of Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity. Einstein himself didn't believe that black holes actually existed. Ten years after Einstein's demise in 1965, Roger Penrose proved that black holes can, indeed, exist.

He described these objects in detail. At their core, black holes hold within a singularity where traditional laws of physics do not apply. Today, his trailblazing article is still regarded as the most noteworthy contribution to the general theory of relativity after the work of Einstein himself.

The fourth woman to be awarded a Nobel prize in Physics

The second study is by Richard Genzel and Andrea Ghez. Each has a team of astronomers that have been primarily focusing on Sagittarius A since the early '90s. This part of the Milky Way is really close to its center.

The teams mapped the brightest stars around this zone with ever-increasing precision, coming into agreement that an extraordinarily heavy, invisible object is pulling these clutter of stars that flail around at unfathomable speeds. Sagittarius A contains about four million solar masses in an area as big as our own solar system. In the end, they were able to discover there is a supermassive black hole in the center of our galaxy.

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Ghez is only the fourth woman to be awarded a Nobel prize in physics. Enthusiastic to receive the award, she said, "I hope I can inspire other young women into the field. It is a field that has so many pleasures, and if you are passionate about the science there is so much that can be done"

The upcoming Nobel program

The program for the announcement of Nobel Prize winners goes like this:

  • Chemistry – Wednesday 7 October, 11:45 CEST at the earliest
  • Literature – Thursday 8 October, 13:00 CEST at the earliest
  • Peace – Friday 9 October, 11:00 CEST
  • Economic Sciences – Monday 12 October, 11:45 CEST at the earliest