Comedian and presenter Dara Ó Briain has paid tribute to Professor Stephen Hawking, describing the late physicist and cosmologist as "a hero" and saying it was "a privilege" to work with him.

Hawking died peacefully at his home in Cambridge in the early hours of Wednesday morning at the age of 76. He had been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a form of motor neurone disease, when he was a 22-year-old student at Cambridge University.

Ó Briain, who worked with Hawking on the 2015 documentary Dara Ó Briain Meets Stephen Hawking, was among the first to pay tribute.

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"What a privilege it was to know Stephen Hawking," Ó Briain wrote on Twitter. 

"His work elevated us to the extra-ordinary; his life pushed down a terrible, limiting disease so that he could enjoy the full joy of the ordinary. In both, he was a triumph of what can we, as humans, can achieve."

"He was one of the few people I would call a hero of mine; it was an honour and joy to have spent time with him," the mathematics and theoretical physics graduate continued.

Eddie Redmayne, who won an Oscar for his portrayal of Hawking in the film The Theory of Everything, said: "We have lost a truly beautiful mind, an astonishing scientist and the funniest man I have ever had the pleasure to meet.

Eddie Redmayne and Stephen Hawking at the UK premiere of The Theory of Everything in London in December 2014

"My love and thoughts are with his extraordinary family."

Katy Perry, Stephen Fry, Jonathan Ross and Macaulay Culkin were among the many stars who also paid tribute.

Perry said there was a "black hole in my heart" shortly after hearing the news of Hawking's passing.

Stephen Fry remembered Hawking's "fabulously wicked sense of humour" in his tweet.

TV presenter Jonathan Ross tweeted: "RIP Stephen Hawking. The world just dropped a lot of IQ points. And, he was a fun person. Very sad news."

Comedian David Walliams, who worked with Hawking on comedy show Little Britain, thanked his late co-star for being "a great laugh".

The cast of The Big Bang Theory said it was "an honour" to have worked with him on the sitcom.

Actor Macaulay Culkin recounted Hawking's appearances on The Simpsons, writing: "I just heard about Stephen Hawking's passing. He was both a genius and my favorite Simpsons character. We'll miss you, buddy."

Apple CEO Tim Cook said the world "will always be inspired" by Stephen Hawking's life and ideas.

Here are some more of the tributes: