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Nobel Prize For Physics 2020

Nobel Prize For Physics 2020

Introduction

  • The Nobel Prizes regarded as the most prestigious awards given for intellectual achievement in the world are awarded annually from a fund bequeathed for that purpose by the Swedish inventor and industrialist Alfred Nobel.
  • It is announced every year for excellence in Physics, Chemistry, Medicine, Literature, Economics, and a distinguished achievement towards humanity – commonly known as the Nobel Peace Prize.

The Institutions That Choose Winners

The Nobel Committees of the prize-awarding institutions are responsible for the selection of the candidates, the institutions being:

  • Nobel Prize in Physics, Nobel Prize in Chemistry: The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
  • Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine: The Karolinska Institutet
  • Nobel Prize in Literature: The Swedish Academy
  • Nobel Peace Prize: A five-member Committee elected by the Norwegian Parliament (Storting)
  • Prize in Economic Sciences: The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences

Nobel Prize For Physics 2020

  • The Nobel Prize in Physics for the year 2020 was awarded to three astrophysicists Roger Penrose from the UK, Reinhard Genzel from Germany, and Andrea Ghez from the USA.
  • Roger Penrose received half of this year’s prize for the discovery that a black hole formation is a robust prediction of the general theory of relativity.
  • The theory explains gravity, as objects try to follow a straight line through a universe whose geometry is warped by matter and energy. As a result, planets, as well as light beams, follow curving paths.
  • Genzel and Ghez received the second half of the prize for the discovery of a supermassive black hole at the centre of the Milkyway galaxy, now known to be the Sagittarius A*.
  • It has a mass four million times that of the Sun and is confined to an area roughly the size of our Solar System.

What Are Black Holes? | Nobel Prize For Physics 2020

  • A black hole is formed when stars collapse.
  • It can be defined as a space in the universe with an escape velocity so strong that even light cannot escape it.
  • Escape velocity is the speed at which an object must travel to override a planet or an object’s gravitational force.
  • EXAMPLE
    • For instance, a spacecraft to leave the surface of the Earth, it needs to be travelling at a speed of about 40,000 km per hour.
    • Since light cannot get out, black holes are invisible and can only be tracked with the help of a space telescope or other special tools.
    • The reason light cannot escape is mainly that the gravity inside a black hole is very strong as a result of a lot of matter being squeezed into a small space.

Main features of black holes

  • Since light cannot get out, black holes are invisible and can only be tracked with the help of a space telescope or other special tools.
  • Light cannot escape from black holes because the gravity inside a black hole is very strong as a result of a lot of matter being squeezed into a small space.

What do the award winners’ work tell us about black holes?

  • Penrose: Discovered “that black hole formation is a robust prediction of the general theory of relativity.”
  • Genzel and Ghez: Discovered a “supermassive compact object at the centre of our galaxy.” This is now known to be the Sagittarius A* supermassive black hole, which has a mass four million times that of the Sun and is confined to an area roughly the size of our Solar System.

Roger Penrose | Nobel Prize For Physics 2020

  • Roger Penrose, born 1931 in Colchester, UK. Ph.D. 1957 from University of Cambridge, UK. Professor at University of Oxford, UK.

Reinhard Genzel

  • 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

  • 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.

 

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