In a statement, Professor Hawking's children, Lucy, Robert and Tim said: "We are deeply saddened that our beloved father passed away today".
"His courage and persistence with his brilliance and humour inspired people across the world. People who annoyed him, it was said, found themselves a target".
In 2002, Hawking was ranked number 25 in the BBC's poll of the 100 Greatest Britons, his book A Brief History of Time was on the United Kingdom best-seller list for a record-breaking 237 weeks.
The theoretical physicist suffered from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
Hawking added: "My old system worked well and I wrote five books with it, including "A Brief History of Time".
The best-known theoretical physicist of his time, Hawking wrote so lucidly of the mysteries of space, time and black holes that his book, "A Brief History of Time", became an global bestseller, making him one of science's biggest celebrities since Albert Einstein. His major scientific work was also to discover that black holes are not entirely black while they emit radiation and they will eventually evaporate and disappear.
The account garnered one million fans within its first few hours and now has almost five million, with his infrequent posts typically generating tens of thousands of admiring comments and earning him the affectionate nickname "Hawking Dada", or "Uncle Hawking".
Hawking was born on January 8, 1942, in Oxford, England.
In an exclusive interview with CNN in October 2008, Hawking said that if humans can survive the next 200 years and learn to live in space, then our future will be bright.
Pop culture fans should recognise Hawking from his guest spot (as his own hologram) in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode, "Descent", or his appearances on The Simpsons, Futurama, and others.
Among those early to pay tribute were the American astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and NASA.
Hawking himself met Eddie Redmayne as part of the actor's preparation for taking on the role of the scientist.
In September 2016 Hawking joined 375 "concerned" scientists in penning an open letter criticizing then-presidential candidate Donald Trump, citing the threat of climate change and blasting his push for the USA to leave the Paris Accord. "Think of it as a kind of vacuum energy permeating the fabric of spacetime that defies measure".
Soon afterwards, he went to Cambridge to start a PhD in cosmology. Like many, I read (and failed to fully grasp) his most popular work, A Brief History of Time, and was struck by the power of a man confined to a wheelchair, who could only speak via an electronic voice, with a mind that could grasp the secrets of the universe.
The US space agency tweeted: "Remembering Stephen Hawking, a renowned physicist and ambassador of science".
Advisor to Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal resigns
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