COST Action members awarded for the ‘Oscars of Science’, the 2020 Breakthrough prize in fundamental physics.


The 2020 breakthrough prize in the field of life sciences, mathematics and fundamental physics, known as the ‘Oscars of Science’ will be awarded on November 3 at the NASA Ames research Center in Mountain view, California.

The Breakthrough Prize aims to celebrate the best scientific work and inspire the next generation of scientists. This year, among the laureates, the 2020 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics has awarded scientists who have contributed to the first image of a supermassive black hole.

The $3 million prize will be shared equally with 347 scientists from 60 institutions operating in 20 countries and regions who have captured an image of a black hole for the first time. By synchronizing each telescope from different part of the globe using a network of atomic clocks, the team created a virtual telescope as large as the Earth, with a resolving power from the surface of our planet. Two Actions participants are among the scientists awarded.

Prof Rezzolla

Above: Professor Rezzolla

Prof. Rezzolla, Chair of the COST Action NewCompStar: Exploring fundamental physics with compact stars has contributed to the group of scientists that captured the first-ever image of a black hole last April by the Event Horizon Telescope.

“There is no single hero in the EHT but a strong collaborative effort. The Breakthrough Prize is a testimony of what can be achieved when skills and talents from many different scientists are combined in a collaborative manner. This is also the spirit that is behind COST and COST Actions, whose ultimate goal is to bring together scientists in the pursue of scientific research that cannot be achieved otherwise”.

The techniques and equations used for the research and capturing the image of a black hole, were also developed in the COST Action Prof Rezzola chaired. The Action was set up in 2013 to encourage dialogue among astrophysicists, gravitational physicists and nuclear physicists studying these and similar astronomical objects.

Above: Samaya Nissanke 

Samaya Nissanke Working Group leader in the COST Action: Gravitational waves, black holes and fundamental physics is also among the scientist awarded for the New Horizons Prize in Physics with Jo Dunkley from Princeton University and Kendrick Smith from the Perimeter Institute “for the development of novel techniques to extract fundamental physics from astronomical data.”

“I am delighted and honoured to be awarded the New Horizon Prize in Physics with Profs. Dunkley and Smith. It is an absolute privilege to be working in this exciting fast-paced and observationally driven new field of gravitational wave and multi-messenger astrophysics. I am indebted to my many colleagues, and those members of this EU Cost Action, for their wonderful support, many scientific interactions and collaborations over the last years enabled by this Action.”

Additional info:

Exploring fundamental physics with compact stars (NewCompStar)

Gravitational waves, black holes and fundamental physics