Three scientists share Nobel prize in physics for work on black holes

Roger Penrose (left), who receives half the prize; and Andrea Ghez and Reinhard Genzel, who share the other half. Composite: UCLA/MPE/EPA

Three scientists have won the 2020 Nobel prize in physics for their work on black hole formation and the discovery of a supermassive black hole at the centre of our galaxy.

Are aliens hiding in plain sight?

‘You can’t hunt for something if you have no idea what it is’: An artist’s impression of Mars. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

Several missions this year are seeking out life on the red planet. But would we recognize extraterrestrials if we found them?

Mars covered in toxic chemicals that can wipe out living organisms, tests reveal

Mars is bathed in ultra violet light which turns the Martian soil sterile. Photograph: Reuters

Discovery has major implications for hunt for alien life on the red planet as it means any evidence is likely to be buried deep underground

Black holes may merge with light of a trillion suns, scientists say

An artist’s impression of a supermassive black hole (IPAC)/Caltech

When black holes collide, the ensuing cosmic drama was assumed to play out under the cloak of darkness, given that both objects are invisible. But now astronomers believe they have made the first optical observations of such a merger, marked by a blaze of light a trillion times brighter than the sun.

Telescope captures most detailed pictures yet of the sun

First observations from Inouye telescope bring previously hazy star into sharp focus.
The striking images reveal a surprising level of structure hidden within the churning plasma exterior, bringing a previously hazy impression of the sun’s patchwork surface sharply into focus for the first time.

'Giant, shape-shifting stars' spotted near Milky Way's black hole

The Milky Way

Objects raise hopes of scientists managing to track ‘blobs’ being swallowed by black hole
A number of bizarre shape-shifting objects have been discovered close to the supermassive black hole at the centre of the Milky Way.
The blobs are thought to be giant stars that spend part of their orbits so close to the black hole that they get stretched out like bubble gum before returning to a compact, roughly spherical form.

Black hole at centre of galaxy is getting hungrier, say scientists

Scientists say Milky Way’s Sagittarius A* has been more active in recent months. Unseeable and inescapable, black holes already rank among the more sinister phenomena out in the cosmos. So it may come as disconcerting news that the supermassive black hole at the centre of the Milky Way appears to be growing hungrier.