Nobel Prize in physics awarded to three researchers in astronomy and cosmology
This morning, the 2019 Nobel Prize in Physics was split between three men, with half of the award (a total of $910,000) split between Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz (25% each) “for the discovery of an exoplanet orbiting a solar-type star,” and the other half of the Prize going to James Peebles of Princeton “for theoretical discoveries in physical cosmology”.
Mayor, a Swiss astrophysicist at the University of Geneva, and Queloz, a Swiss astronomer working at Cambridge and Geneva, were jointly recognized for the discovery of “exoplanets”—planets outside our solar system. Wikipedia describes their work thusly:
In 1995 Queloz was a Ph.D. student at the University of Geneva when he and Michel Mayor, his doctoral advisor, discovered the first exoplanet around a main sequence star. For this achievement, they were awarded half of the 2019 Nobel Prize in Physics “for the discovery of an exoplanet orbiting a solar-type star”.
Queloz performed an analysis on 51 Pegasi using radial velocity measurements (Doppler spectroscopy) with the ELODIE spectrograph in the Haute-Provence Observatory and was astonished to find a planet with an orbital period of 4.2 days. He had been performing the analysis as an exercise to hone his skills. The planet, 51 Pegasi b, challenged the then accepted views of planetary formation, being a hot Jupiter or roaster.
As Wikipedia says of Peebles, he’s made: “major theoretical contributions to primordial nucleosynthesis, dark matter, the cosmic microwave background, and structure formation.”
Here are the tweets from the Nobel Prize site announcing the awards and briefly describing the work.
And the video announcement (not yet up when I wrote this post):