The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award the Nobel Prize in Physics this year to Roger Penrose from the University of Oxford "for the discovery that black hole formation is a robust prediction of the general theory of relativity" and to Reinhard Genzel from the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, Garching, Germany and to Andrea Ghez from the University of California, jointly "for the discovery of a supermassive compact object at the centre of our galaxy."
Prize amount of 10 million Swedish kronor goes with one half to Roger Penrose and the other half jointly to Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez.
Black holes and Milky Way's darkest secret
Three Laureates share this year's Nobel Prize in Physics for their discoveries about one of the most exotic phenomena in the universe, the black hole. Roger Penrose showed that the general theory of relativity leads to the formation of black holes.
Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez discovered that an invisible and extremely heavy object governs the orbits of stars at the centre of our galaxy. A supermassive black hole is the only currently known explanation.
Roger Penrose used ingenious mathematical methods in his proof that black holes are a direct consequence of Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity. Einstein did not himself believe that black holes really exist, these super-heavyweight monsters that capture everything that enters them. Nothing can escape, not even light.
In January 1965, ten years after Einstein's death, Roger Penrose proved that black holes really can form and described them in detail; at their heart, black holes hide a singularity in which all the known laws of nature cease. His groundbreaking article is still regarded as the most important contribution to the general theory of relativity since Einstein.
Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez each lead a group of astronomers that, since the early 1990s, has focused on a region called Sagittarius A* at the centre of our galaxy. The orbits of the brightest stars closest to the middle of the Milky Way have been mapped with increasing precision.
"The discoveries of this year's Laureates have broken new ground in the study of compact and supermassive objects. But these exotic objects still pose many questions that beg for answers and motivate future research. Not only questions about their inner structure, but also questions about how to test our theory of gravity under the extreme conditions in the immediate vicinity of a black hole", says David Haviland, chair of the Nobel Committee for Physics.