The recipients of the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics were announced this morning. This year, the prize has been awarded for discoveries related to black holes. The recipients: Reinhard Genzel, Andrea Ghez, and Roger Penrose.

Black holes are a phenomenon predicted by the theory of relativity, that a sufficiently massive object could have enough gravity to warp spacetime such that even light could not escape from it. Roger Penrose carried out some of the important theoretical calculations establishing the reality and properties of black holes; Andrea Ghez and Reinhard Genzel led experiments that established that a supermassive black hole exists at the center of our own Milky Way galaxy.

Reinhard Genzel made a virtual visit to UMD last month as the speaker for the Astronomy Colloquium; he is director of Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics and is also a professor at the University of California, Berkeley.

Andrea Ghez is a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of California, Los Angeles. She and her research were featured in a NOVA television special on black holes in 2018. She won the APS Maria Goeppert Mayer Award in 1999.

Roger Penrose is a professor at the University of Oxford. In 1988 he shared the Wolf Prize in Mathematics with Stephen Hawking for their mathematical research regarding spacetime singularities.

We’ll share more information on black hole physics in an upcoming post; meanwhile, check out these links for more about the physics, the people, and the prize.

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