3 scientists win Nobel Prize in Physics for black hole discoveries

Nobel prize winners.
(Image credit: FREDRIK SANDBERG/TT NEWS AGENCY/AFP via Getty Images)

Three scientists will share this year's Nobel Prize in Physics for discoveries about one of the most mysterious objects in our universe.

British scientist Roger Penrose was awarded one half of the prize for discovering how black holes back up Einstein's theory of relativity, the Nobel Committee announced Tuesday. German Reinhard Genzel and American Andrea Ghez meanwhile received the other half for finding a supermassive black hole was at the center of the Milky Way Galaxy.

See more

Penrose's work fed into Genzel and Ghez's, as he used math to prove black holes could actually exist based on the theory of relativity. He was a longtime collaborator with Stephen Hawking, with whom he worked to "merge Einstein's theory of relativity with quantum theory to suggest that space and time would begin with the Big Bang and end in black holes," CNN writes. Nobel prizes can't be awarded posthumously, but analyst David Pendlebury noted to CNN that Hawking's work was mentioned in both Penrose and Genzel and Ghez' work.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

Ghez is meanwhile the fourth woman to ever receive the Nobel prize in Physics, telling The Associated Press that "I hope I can inspire other young women into the field. It's a field that has so many pleasures. And if you're passionate about the science, there's so much that can be done."

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.

Kathryn Krawczyk

Kathryn is a graduate of Syracuse University, with degrees in magazine journalism and information technology, along with hours to earn another degree after working at SU's independent paper The Daily Orange. She's currently recovering from a horse addiction while living in New York City, and likes to share her extremely dry sense of humor on Twitter.