A view of the UCLA campus. Photo by John Schreiber.
A view of the UCLA campus. Photo by John Schreiber.

The 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded Tuesday to three scientists who study black holes, including Andrea Ghez of UCLA, who becomes only the fourth woman to win a Nobel physics prize.

One half of the prize went to Roger Penrose, a physicist, mathematician and cosmologist at the University of Oxford who worked with a fellow physicist, the late Stephen Hawking, to merge Einstein’s theory of relativity with quantum theory to suggest that space and time would begin with the Big Bang and end in black holes. The other half was awarded to Ghez, a UCLA professor, and Reinhard Genzel, who is director at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Garching, Germany, and a professor at UC Berkeley.

Penrose was awarded “for the discovery that black hole formation is a robust prediction of the general theory of relativity.” Genzel and Ghez were honored “for the discovery of a supermassive compact object at the center of our galaxy.”

The Nobel physics prize was awarded to a woman for the first time in 55 years in 2018.

“I think Tuesday I feel more passionate about the teaching side of my job than I have ever,” Ghez said after the prize was announced in Stockholm, Sweden.

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry will be announced on Wednesday, followed by the Nobel Prize in Literature on Thursday, the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday and the Prize in Economic Sciences next Monday. This year’s Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded to three researchers on Monday for the discovery of hepatitis C virus, leading to the development of tests and treatments.

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