Physics Nobel Prize 2020 | UPSC

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Physics Nobel Prize 2020 | UPSC

Physics Nobel Prize 2020 | UPSC


Physics nobel prize 2020 to trio for work on black holes

      WHY IN NEWS:

Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez discovered a massive black hole at the centre of Milky Way



For PRELIMS understand the concept of blackhole and the latest perception about our Solar System.

For MAINS can you mention few points from theory of relativity ? Revise these NCERT page no 11 and NCERT Class 11th page 394. Let us dive in !


Roger Penrose showed black holes to be a direct consequence of Theory of Relativity


  • In the second consecutive year when the Physics Prize has gone to astrophysics.
  • One-half of the prize has been awarded to Penrose “for the discovery that black hole formation is a robust prediction of the General Theory of Relativity”.
  • The other half has been jointly warded to Genzel and Ghez “for the discovery of a supermassive compact object at the centre of our galaxy”.


Physics Nobel Prize 2020 | UPSC


Penrose, a professor at the University of Oxford, used ingenious mathematical methods in his proof that black holes are a direct consequence of General Theory of Relativity.

  • Black holes usually capture everything that enters them; Light cannot escape once it has entered them.
  • Einstein did not himself believe that black holes really existed.
  • In January 1965, 10 years after Einstein’s death, Penrose proved that black holes really can form and described them in detail.
  • His ground breaking article is still regarded as the most important contribution to the general theory of relativity since Einstein.


  • Genzel and Ghez, on the other hand, discovered that an invisible and extremely heavy object governs the orbits of stars at the centre of our galaxy.
  • They made precise measurements of the orbits of the brightest stars in the area considered the middle of the Milky Way.
  • They observed that – speed of the stars could only be explained by the presence of a very massive but invisible, heavenly body.
  • This is now known to be the Sagittarius A* supermassive black hole.

Sagittarius A* has a mass four million times that of the Sun and is confined to an area roughly the size of our Solar System.

  • The orbits of the brightest stars closest to the middle of the Milky Way have been mapped with increasing precision.
  • The invisible object pulls on the jumble of stars, causing them to rush around at dizzying speeds.
  • Around four million solar masses are packed together in a region no larger than our solar system.
  • Using the world’s largest telescopes, Genzel and Ghez developed methods to see through the huge clouds of interstellar gas and dust to the centre of the Milky Way.


  • 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.

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.


  • Essentially, their work tells us that at the centre of our galaxy the Milky Way lies an invisible supermassive object.

Physicists have been suspecting the existence of a black hole at the centre of our galaxy for over 50 years now.

  • In order to see through to the middle of the Milky Way, Genzel and Ghez worked with world’s largest telescopes.

      IASbhai WINDUP: 

  • Genzel is director at Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, Garching, Germany and Professor at University of California, Berkeley, USA.
  • Ghez is Professor at the University of California, Los Angeles.



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