The 2020 Nobel Prize for Physics was announced on Tuesday (October 6), with one half awarded to Roger Penrose and the other half jointly to Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez.
According to the Nobel Prize panel, Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez together discovered that an invisible and extremely heavy object governs the orbits of stars at the centre of the Milky Way galaxy. A supermassive black hole is the only currently known explanation.
Meanwhile, Roger Penrose 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 – the “monsters” in time and space that capture everything that enters them.
This award has in the past honoured discoveries about the tiniest of particles and the vast mysteries of outer space.
It is common for several scientists who worked in related fields to share the prize. Last years prize went to Canadian-born cosmologist James Peebles for theoretical work about the early moments after the Big Bang, and Swiss astronomers Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz for discovering a planet outside our solar system.
The prestigious award comes with a gold medal and prize money of 10 million Swedish kronor (more than $1.1 million), courtesy of a bequest left 124 years ago by the prizes creator, Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel. The amount was increased recently to adjust for inflation.
On Monday, the Nobel Committee awarded the prize for physiology and medicine to Americans Harvey J Alter and Charles M Rice and British-born scientist Michael Houghton for discovering the liver-ravaging hepatitis C virus.
The other prizes are for chemistry, literature, peace, and economics.