The Royal Society congratulates the winners of the Nobel Prize in Physics 2020, including Fellow of the Society, Professor Sir Roger Penrose; Foreign Member of the Society, Reinhard Genzel; and Professor Andrea Ghez, who was previously awarded the Society’s premier physical sciences prize, the Bakerian Medal and Lecture.
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awarded this year’s prize to Professor Penrose, for the “discovery that black hole formation is a robust prediction of the general theory of relativity” with the other half jointly awarded to Professor Genzel and Professor Ghez “for the discovery of a supermassive compact object at the centre of our galaxy”.
Venki Ramakrishnan, President of the Royal Society said, “It is a pleasure to see this year’s Nobel Prize in Physics recognise three outstanding scientists, and their teams, for ground-breaking work on black holes which simultaneously transformed our understanding of the universe and captured the imaginations of millions.
“Professor Penrose’s seminal paper demonstrated mathematically that not only could black holes exist, but that their formation is a consistent and predictable outcome of a universe governed by general relativity. This work showed black holes were there to be found – but it was the painstaking, long-term study of the centre of our own Milky Way, by groups led by Professor Ghez and Professor Genzel, that gave the best evidence yet of a black hole on our doorstep. Through decades of patient application, they have refined the technology and techniques for studying our galaxy, and in doing so, opened up new possibilities and questions to explore.”