Reinhard Genzel, a professor at UC Berkeley, split the award with UCLA professor, Andrea Ghez, and Roger Penrose of England.
Genzel is a German astrophysicist, who first joined the Berkeley Physics Department in 1981 before multiple stops at several other prestigious universities, according to his biography on the UC Berkeley website. He returned as a full professor in 1999.
The announcement Tuesday in Stockholm, Sweden was awarded to both Genzel and Ghez "for the discovery of a supermassive compact object at the center of our galaxy," said the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.
RELATED: 2020 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine awarded to Sacramento native Charles M. Rice
Their work celebrates "one of the most exotic objects in the universe," black holes, which have become a staple of science fiction and science fact and where time even seems to stand still, Nobel committee scientists said.
Genzel and Ghez looked at the dust-covered center of our Milky Way galaxy where something strange was going on, several stars moving around something they couldn't see. It was a black hole. Not just an ordinary black hole, but a supermassive black hole, four million times the mass of our sun.
Now scientists know that all galaxies have supermassive black holes.
RELATED: Former Berkeley professor wins Nobel Prize in Medicine
The prestigious Nobel Prize comes with a gold medal and prize money of over $1.1 million courtesy of Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel.
BREAKING NEWS:— The Nobel Prize (@NobelPrize) October 6, 2020
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award the 2020 #NobelPrize in Physics with one half to Roger Penrose and the other half jointly to Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez. pic.twitter.com/MipWwFtMjz
The distinction for Genzel and Ghez came a day after another University of California professor won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, Sacramento native and UC Davis professor, Charles M. Rice.
The other prizes are awarded in the fields of chemistry, literature, peace and economics.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.