Stockholm — Three physicists won this year’s Nobel Prize in physics Tuesday for discoveries related black holes. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said that Briton Roger Penrose 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 and American Andrea Ghez will receive the second half of the prize “for the discovery of a supermassive compact object at the center of our galaxy.”
“I hope I can inspire other young women into the field,” Ghez said at the news conference where the prize was announced, according to the Swedish Academy. “It’s a field that has so many pleasures, and if you are passionate about the science, there’s so much that can be done.”
Penrose, of Britain, worked extensively on black hole research with the renowned physicist Stephen Hawking, who never won a Nobel Prize himself.
It is common for several scientists who worked in related fields to share the prize. 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 (more than $1.1 million), 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.