Black Hole Discoveries Grant Three Scientists A Nobel Physics Prize!

The 2020 Nobel Physics Prize Was Awarded to Roger Penrose “for the discovery that black hole formation is a robust prediction of the general theory of relativity.”

He shared the prize with Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez “for the discovery of a supermassive compact object at the center of our galaxy.”

High Reward

Penrose will receive half of the 10 million Swedish kronor (over US $1.1 million) prize. He helped update the theoretical basis for black hole physics in the 1960s by backing it up with seminal mathematical proof that black holes directly result from general relativity.

The modern concepts regarding black holes go back to 1916, when Albert Einstein explained his general relativity theory.

That theory changed science forever.

Initially, some scientists considered that black holes are purely hypothetical objects until they were proven wrong.

The work on Genzel’s team started in the 1990s, and it relied on the European Southern Observatory’s telescopes in Chile, particularly the Very Large Telescope array.

Ghez’s team worked with data from the Keck Telescope in Hawaii.

The two teams developed a technique known as “speckle imaging” to overcome the boundaries set by our planet’s turbulent atmosphere.

The method involves taking some highly sensitive, short exposures of a given star and stacking the data to make a sharper image.

However, the technique needed extra refining as it initially proved useful and efficient on very bright stars.

The black holes subject is still relatively new to science, as the first image of a black hole is less than two years old.

More research is needed to have a deeper understanding of the subject.

Melanie J. Gullett
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