There are certain rules that even the most extreme objects in the universe must obey. A central law for black holes predicts that the area of their event horizons — the boundary beyond which nothing can ever escape — should never shrink. This law is Hawking’s area theorem, named after physicist Stephen Hawking, who derived the theorem in 1971.
Fifty years later, physicists at MIT and elsewhere have now confirmed Hawking’s area theorem for the first time, using observations of gravitational waves. Their results appear today in Physical Review Letters.