The Nobel Prize in Physics this year was shared amongst three laureates for their discoveries concerning one of the most searched mysteries in the Universe, the black hole and the Milky Way. Roger Penrose, one of the three Nobel prize Winners proposed the general theory of relativity leads to the formation of black holes. The other two winners, Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez found out that there is an invisible and extremely heavy object governing the orbits of stars right in the centre of our galaxy, The Milky Way. The only known explanation currently is that it is a black hole.
Roger Penrose was born in 1931in Colchester, UK. He received his PhD. In 1957 from the University of Cambridge and is now a Professor at the University of Oxford.
Reinhard Genzel was born in 1952 in Bad Homburg vor der Höhe, Germany. He got his Ph.D. in 1978 from the University of Bonn in Germany. Director at Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, in Garching, Germany, He is currently Professor at the University of California, Berkeley.
Andrea Ghez was born in 1965 in the city of New York, USA. She received her PhD in 1992 from the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, USA. She is currently a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, USA.
The total prize amount was 10 million out of which one half was given to Roger Penrose and the other half was subsequently split between Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez.
Roger Penrose proved that black holes are a direct consequence of Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity using mathematical methods, which is pretty fascinating since Einstein himself did not believe in the existence of black holes. Black holes are thought to be heavyweight monstrosities that engulf everything which enters them, not even light can escape a black hole. Dr Penrose proved that black holes can form in reality and he described them in detail in his ground-breaking article which is considered as one of the most essential contributions to the theory of relativity, post-Einstein.
Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez each had a group of astronomers that they were leading since the early 1990s which focused on a region called Sagittarius A* at the centre of our galaxy. The orbits of the brightest stars which are closest to the middle of the milky way were mapped with increased precision. Both the group’s measurements match in terms of findings, both of the groups found an extremely heavy, invisible object that pulls on the jumble of stars which causes them to run around at dizzy speeds. There are around four million solar masses which are packed together in a region which is as big as our Solar System.
Using the World’s largest Telescopes, Reinhard and Andrea came up with methods to see through the huge clouds made of interstellar gases and dust which come between the centre of the milky way and hinder our vision of it. The refined new techniques to compensate for distortions caused by the Earth’s atmosphere. They built unique instruments to carry out this process which has given the world one of the most convincing evidence of a supermassive black hole at the centre of the Milky Way.
This year’s discoveries have decidedly broken new ground in the field of compact and supermassive objects. These new discoveries have created more questions to be answered and have generated the future potential for further research. It is very impressive to see how Laureates have pushed the concept forward and how they have gotten closer to deciphering of one the greatest scientific mysteries of all time.