This year three Laureates share Nobel Prize in Physics for their discoveries about one of the most exotic phenomena in the universe, the black hole.
Roger Penrose bags Nobel Prize for the discovery that black hole formation is a robust prediction of the general theory of relativity. He 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.
What is a black hole? Click here to read more
Roger Penrose, Professor at University of Oxford, UK, used ingenious mathematical methods in his proof that black holes are a direct consequence of Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity. Einstein did not himself believe that black holes really exist, these super-heavyweight monsters that capture everything that enters them. Nothing can escape, not even light.
In January 1965, ten years after Einstein’s death, Roger Penrose proved that black holes really can form and described them in detail; at their heart, black holes hide a singularity in which all the known laws of nature cease. His groundbreaking article is still regarded as the most important contribution to the general theory of relativity since Einstein.
Reinhard Genzel, Professor at University of California, Berkeley, USA and Andrea Ghez, Professor at University of California, Los Angeles, USA each lead a group of astronomers that, since the early 1990s, has focused on a region called Sagittarius A* at the centre of our galaxy. The orbits of the brightest stars closest to the middle of the Milky Way have been mapped with increasing precision. The measurements of these two groups agree, with both finding an extremely heavy, invisible object that pulls on the jumble of stars, causing them to rush around at dizzying speeds. Around four million solar masses are packed together in a region no larger than our solar system.
Using the world’s largest telescopes, Genzel and Ghez developed methods to see through the huge clouds of interstellar gas and dust to the center of the Milky Way. Stretching the limits of technology, they refined new techniques to compensate for distortions caused by the Earth’s atmosphere, building unique instruments and committing themselves to long-term research. Their pioneering work has given us the most convincing evidence yet of a supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way.
More about the Nobel Laureates:
Roger Penrose, born 1931 in Colchester, UK. Ph.D. 1957 from University of Cambridge, UK. Professor at University of Oxford, UK.
Reinhard Genzel, born 1952 in Bad Homburg vor der Höhe, Germany. Ph.D. 1978 from University of Bonn, Germany. Director at Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, Garching, Germany and Professor at University of California, Berkeley, USA.
Andrea Ghez, born 1965 in City of New York, USA. Ph.D. 1992 from California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, USA. Professor at University of California, Los Angeles, USA.
Check out the illustrations:
Illustration: Cross section of a black hole (pdf)
Illustration: The Milky Way (pdf)
Illustration: Stars closest to the centre of the Milky Way (pdf)
Source: Nobelprize.org press release
Pic Source: Nobleprize.org