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Astronomer Andrew Fabian, the winner of the 2020 Kavli Prize in Astrophysics. Screenshot: The Kavli Foundation

Seven scientists from five countries received the Kavli Prize on Wednesday for their discoveries in astrophysics, nanoscience and neuroscience.

Why it matters: They were rewarded for their research on how black holes interact with galaxies, inventions that made electron microscopes even more precise and the discovery of how temperature and pressure are detected by the body and signaled to the brain.

The winners: 2020's Kavli Prize Laureates are:

  • In astrophysics: Andrew Fabian (U.K.)
  • In nanoscience: Harald Rose (Germany), Maximilian Haider (Austria), Knut Urban (Germany) and Ondrej L Krivanek (U.K. and Czech Republic)
  • In neuroscience: David Julius (U.S.) and Ardem Patapoutian (U.S.)

Each field of winners also received a cash reward of $1 million, which is on a par with the Nobel Prize's $1.1 million award. The prize is shared equally among the laureates in a given field.

Details: Astronomer and astrophysicist Andrew Fabian used X-ray astronomy to obtain evidence that supermassive black holes at the center of galaxies drive a flow of hot gas out of galaxies. That process redistributes energy throughout the universe and provides the building blocks for future galaxy formation.

  • "Fabian is one of the most prolific and influential astronomers of our time," said Viggo Hansteen, chair of the Kavli Prize Committee in Astrophysics. "His research, breadth of knowledge and insights into the universe provided the essential physical understanding of how disparate phenomena in this ecosystem are interconnected."

The four scientists awarded the Kavli Prize for nanoscience developed "aberration-corrected lenses" for electron microscopes to better focus beams of electrons, allowing imaging on a subatomic scale.

  • The corrective lenses can be used to create better chemical catalysts, more efficient solar cells in solar panels, and membranes for carbon dioxide capture and storage systems, according to the BBVA Foundation.
  • “Their work is a beautiful example of scientific ingenuity, dedication and persistence. They have enabled humanity to see where we could not see before,” said Bodil Holst, chair of the Kavli Prize Committee in Nanoscience.

Physiologist David Julius and microbiologist Ardem Patapoutian discovered the molecular mechanisms that underpin sensitivities to temperature and pressure. Their work describes how those conditions are detected and encoded into electrical signals the brain can process, providing new insights into human physiology.

  • "The individual discoveries of David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian have given the scientific community the molecular and neural basis for thermosensation and mechanosensation that is revolutionizing our understanding of sensory detection and will have a profound impact on addressing health and disease worldwide," said Kristine B. Walhovd, Kavli Prize Committee in Neuroscience.

Go deeper: How science can prepare us for the next crisis

Go deeper

81 Nobel laureates endorse Biden

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

A group of 81 Nobel Prize winners endorsed Joe Biden for president, reports CNN.

Why it matters: They cited Biden's "deep appreciation for using science to find solutions" in the letter — which it highlighted as particularly important during the coronavirus pandemic.

Biden Cabinet confirmation schedule: When to watch hearings

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on Jan. 16 in Wilmington, Delaware. Photo: Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images

The first hearings for President-elect Joe Biden's Cabinet nominations begin on Tuesday, with testimony from his picks to lead the departments of State, Homeland and Defense.

Why it matters: It's been a slow start for a process that usually takes place days or weeks earlier for incoming presidents. The first slate of nominees will appear on Tuesday before a Republican-controlled Senate, but that will change once the new Democratic senators-elect from Georgia are sworn in.

Kamala Harris resigns from Senate seat ahead of inauguration

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. Photo: Mason Trinca/Getty Images

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris submitted her resignation from her seat in the U.S. Senate on Monday, two days before she will be sworn into her new role.

What's next: California Gov. Gavin Newsom has selected California Secretary of State Alex Padilla to serve out the rest of Harris' term, which ends in 2022.