Three physicists have won this year’s Nobel Prize for physics for discoveries related to black holes.
Briton Roger Penrose, a professor at the University of Oxford, will receive half of this year’s prize “for the discovery that black hole formation is a robust prediction of the general theory of relativity”.
Goran K Hansson, the academy’s secretary-general, said German Reinhard Genzel – of the Max Planck Institute and the University of California, Berkeley – and American Andrea Ghez of the University of California, Los Angeles will receive the other half of the prize “for the discovery of a supermassive compact object at the center of our galaxy”.
It is common for several scientists who worked in related fields to share the prize.
“The discoveries of this year’s Laureates have broken new ground in the study of compact and supermassive objects,” said David Haviland, chair of the Nobel Committee for Physics.
Ghez is only the fourth woman to win the physics prize, after Marie Curie (1903), Maria Goeppert Mayer (1963) and Donna Strickland (2018).
Last year’s 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 ($1.12m), courtesy of a bequest left 124 years ago by the prize’s 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 outstanding work in the fields of chemistry, literature, peace and economics.