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Nobel Prize in Physics goes to trio of scientists for outer space discoveries

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A gold Nobel Prize medal given to recipients of the prestigious award.
A gold Nobel Prize medal given to recipients of the prestigious award.   -   Copyright  Fernando Vergara/Associated Press
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The 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics was announced on Tuesday, an award that has in the past honoured discoveries about the tiniest of particles and the vast mysteries of outer space.

The joint winners are Roger Penrose, a University of Oxford academic who took one half of the prize, and American scientist Andrea Ghez and German Reinhard Genzel who took the other, Goran Hansson, secretary-general of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, revealed at a press conference in Stockholm.

Penrose was recognised for "the discovery that black hole formation is a robust prediction of the general theory of relativity."

Ghez and Genzel were awarded their half of the prize for "the discovery of a supermassive compact object at the centre of our galaxy."

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 €950,000), 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.

The prize winners this year will not be invited to Stockholm in December for the customary prize giving ceremony due to the coronavirus pandemic.

On Monday, the Nobel Committee awarded the prize for physiology or 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 awarded by the committee are for outstanding work in the fields of chemistry, literature, peace and economics.