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.

Nasa shortlists four astrophysics missions for 2025 launch

The Andromeda galaxy, the nearest spiral galaxy to the Milky Way.

NASA has shortlisted four proposals for its next astrophysics missions, due for launch in 2025. The agency has funding to fly two of them, and the four will now each receive funds for a nine-month period of technical study. The two missions will be chosen next year.