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Black holes research wins Nobel Prize

Today, the 2020 Nobel Prize in physics has been awarded to the British mathematical physicist Sir Roger Penrose and two astronomers: Prof. Reinhard Genzel from Germany and Prof. Andrei M. Ghez from the US. Penrose, together with the famous British cosmologist Stephen Hawking, who died in 2018, have proven the famous black hole theorem. Prof. Penrose has been a foreign member of the Polish Academy of Sciences since 1994.


© Nobel Media. III. Niklas Elmehed

"Penrose, with Hawking's help, has shown that the existence of black holes is a direct consequence of Einstein's theory of general relativity and that such objects not only could, but should exist in our universe"  noted Prof. Wojciech Hellwing from the Center for Theoretical Physics of the Polish Academy of Sciences. “Proving mathematically that black holes could exist is one thing, and showing that they really exist is another task. It is difficult to detect something that, by definition, cannot be seen, because it absorbs all the light ” – headds.

Black hole observations 

"Demonstrating" that black holes exist was the task of Professors Genzel and Ghez. Thanks to an innovative technique of astronomical observations in the infrared spectra, developed by Prof. Genzel’s teamobservations of stars located at the very center of the Milky Way have become possible. However, further orbital analysis of these stars, conducted by Prof. Ghez’s team,has shown that stars orbit around "something" that must have the mass of several million suns. The observations of both teams also have demonstrated that Sagittarius A* ("something" that governs these stars around the galactic center) could not be larger than the size of the solar system. It was irrefutable evidence that there must be a supermassive black hole there. No other object in nature can have the mass of millions of stars compressed to a size smaller than a planetary system. 
“Sir Roger Penrose's research has shown that fantastic and ridiculous, at the same time,black holes concept is true. Observations by Reinhared Genzel and Andreia M. Ghezhave shown that black holes, as the Penrose-Hawking theorem says, do exist. And they are just around the corner" – concludesProf. Hellwing.