Nobel Prize in Physics Awarded to Cosmology, Exoplanet Researchers

This year's winners have “painted a picture of a universe far stranger and more wonderful than we could ever have imagined.”

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Ill. Niklas Elmedhed. © Nobel Media.
  • The Nobel Prize in Physics was announced this morning by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.
  • The prize will be shared between physical cosmologist James Peebles for his contribution to physical cosmology and the astrophysicists Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz, who discovered the first planet circling a star in another galaxy.
  • Together, their work has reshaped our understanding of what we know about the universe and our place in it.

    The Nobel Prize in Physics has been awarded to three people—physical cosmologist James Peebles, physicist Michel Mayor and astronomer Didier Queloz—for discoveries in physical cosmology and for the first discovery of an exoplanet orbiting a solar-type star.

    “This year's Nobel laureates have painted a picture of a universe far stranger and more wonderful than we could ever have imagined,” said physicist Ulf Danielsson at an announcement ceremony held by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. “Our view of our place in the universe will never be the same again.”

    Watch the very moment the 2019 Nobel Prize in Physics is announced.

    Presented by Göran K. Hansson, Secretary General of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.#NobelPrize pic..com/T9fY4dFdo4

    — The Nobel Prize (@NobelPrize) October 8, 2019

    Peebles is the Albert Einstein Professor of Science at Princeton University, Mayor is a professor at the University of Geneva, and Queloz is a professor at both the University of Geneva and the University of Cambridge. Half of the more than $900,000 prize will be given to Peebles, and half will be split between Mayor and Queloz, the Nobel Prize committee announced today.

    “Theory in any of the natural sciences is empty without observation,” said Peebles in a press conference regarding the relationship between his theoretical work and the work of Mayor and Queloz. Peebles's work in physical cosmology and his development of a theoretical framework has revealed insight into the formation and composition of the universe. Just five percent of the content of the universe is known. The other 95 percent is a smattering of dark matter and energy.

    In 1995, Mayor and Queloz discovered the first exoplanet orbiting a star in another solar system. Using the Haute-Provence Observatory in southern France, the duo spotted the exoplanet 51 Pegasi b, a Jupiter-like planet orbiting another star in the constellation Pegasus.

    On Wednesday, the winners of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry will be announced, followed by the Nobel Prize in Literature on Thursday and the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday. On Monday, the Nobel Prize committee will award the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel on Monday.

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