Nobel Prize in Physics Awarded for Black Hole Discoveries

Science discovers more info about black holes as time passes, those mysterious cosmic monsters that lurk in the shadows. Even though they still can’t be directly observed, their effects are tremendous. Nothing can escape their infinite gravity if it gets too close, not even light itself.

Sir Roger Penrose from the University of Oxford in the U.K. is the lucky scientist to receive one-half of the Nobel Prize for discovering that a black hole’s formation is a robust prediction of Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity.

Andrea Ghez of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), together with Reinhard Genzel of the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Germany and the University of Bonn, shared the other half of the Nobel Prize for discovering a supermassive compact object located at the center of our galaxy. While Penrose will receive half of the $1.2 million Nobel Prize, Ghez and Genzel will have to split the other half.

The fourth woman to receive Nobel Prize in physics

Andrea Ghez is only the fourth lucky woman who was awarded the great prize, and the others were Donna Strickland in 2018, Marie Curie in 1903, and Maria Goeppert-Mayer in 1963.

Andrea Ghez is 55 years old, she’s an American astronomer and professor at UCLA’s Department of Physics and Astronomy. She is mostly known for studying the center of our Milky Way galaxy, where a supermassive black hole causes the rotation of stars around the galactic core. Ghez graduated the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (BS), as well as the California Institute of Technology (MS, PhD).

David Haviland, the chair of the Nobel Committee for Physics, declared:

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.

Some day, science will be able to provide irrefutable answers to one of the most important questions about black holes: can these structures ever lead to other universes or dimensions?

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