Stephen Hawking, a cosmologist and one of science’s brightest, has died, his family said Wednesday. He was 76.

The family statement said Hawking passed on in the early hours of Wednesday at his home in Cambridge, UK.

“We are deeply saddened that our beloved father passed away today,” said the statement by Hawking’s children Robert, Lucy and Tim, according to several UK media reports.

“He was a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years. His courage and persistence with his brilliance and humour inspired people across the world.

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“He once said: ‘It would not be much of a universe if it wasn’t home to the people you love.

“We will miss him for ever,” they added.

The scientist was famous for his work with black holes and relativity.

He also authored of ‘A Brief History of Time’, a major science series, while his life's story was captured in the Academy award-winning Hollywood movie ''Theory of Everything".

Hawking was confined to a wheelchair and spoke through a special computer after being diagnosed with motor neurone disease in his twenties.

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