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UC Blue Ash Professor's Research Supports Theory by Hawking

Cenalo Vaz, an associate professor of physics, wins an international award for his essay on black holes.

Date: 6/25/2014
By: Pete Gemmer
Phone: (513) 936-1632
A professor at the University of Cincinnati Blue Ash College is being honored for his work in gravitation with an international award.

Cenalo Vaz, an associate professor of physics at UC Blue Ash, was recently recognized as part of the 2014 Gravity Research Foundation Awards for his essay on gravitational theory, “Black Holes as Gravitational Atoms.” He won second place in the international competition, which recognized the top five essays.

To give a sense of the level of prestige associated with the Gravity Research Foundation awards, a co-author of the winning essay, Frank Wilczek, is a Nobel Laureate. “I am pleased and extremely humbled to be in the company of the winners of this prestigious award,” said Vaz.

In his essay, Vaz proved a recent conjecture by famous physicist, Stephen Hawking, that black holes, as traditionally conceived, may not exist. What ends up forming instead is a new kind of object, a ‘gravitational atom’ or ‘dark star.’

The traditional view is that a black hole forms when a star eventually collapses into infinite density, surrounding itself with a region from which no light may escape. “Professor Hawking proposed without proof that this view is not correct because quantum mechanics will prevent matter from collapsing beyond a particular point,” said Vaz. “In the essay I present a model that confirms this proposal.”

The essay incorporates the results of three years of research on the topic, but Vaz has been researching black holes in general for more than two decades. Even prior to this award he has been a noted expert in his field. He has presented his research at conferences around the world and has previously placed in the Gravity Research Foundation Awards (4th place in 2004 and 5th in 2009).

Along with continuing to teach physics at UC Blue Ash, Vaz’s future plans include more research on gravitational collapse and a new look at quantum gravity. “No evidence for quantum gravity has ever been detected, although we know it must play a role in very extreme situations. It would be really exciting to uncover some accessible phenomenological consequences of this theory.”

UC Blue Ash College is a regional college within the University of Cincinnati. It offers one of the best values in higher education with access to a nationally recognized UC education in nearly 50 degrees and certificates, as well as tuition that is about half of most colleges and universities. The college is located on a scenic 135-acre wooded campus in the heart of Blue Ash, Ohio. To learn more, call (513) 745-5600, visit us online at, like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.