Nobel prize in physics goes to cosmic discoveries


51 Pegasi bImage copyright
ESO / M Kornmesser

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Artwork: Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz have won for their detection of the distant planet 51 Pegasi b

Three scientists have been awarded the 2019 Nobel Prize in Physics for “ground-breaking” discoveries about the Universe.

James Peebles, Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz were announced as this year’s winners at a ceremony in Stockholm.

They were jointly awarded the prize for work on the evolution of the Universe and the discovery of a distant planet around a Sun-like star in 1995.

The winners will share the prize money of nine million kronor (£738,000).

James Peebles, of Princeton University in New Jersey, was honoured for his contributions to the understanding of the evolution of the Universe and Earth’s place in the cosmos.

With others, he predicted the existence of cosmic microwave background radiation, the so-called afterglow of the Big Bang.

Asked what he considered his most important contribution, he said he was “hard-pressed to say”, adding that his work had been collaborative.

“It’s a life’s work,” he told the news conference in Stockholm, Sweden.

Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz were awarded the prize for finding 51 Pegasi b, a gas giant orbiting a star 50 light-years away.

Michael Moloney, chief executive officer of the American Institute of Physics, said: “Their groundbreaking work on discovering the fundamental nature of the Universe and new worlds in distant solar systems has opened up whole new areas of research in cosmology and exoplanet science.

“The discovery of a planet orbiting a star outside our own system has changed our perceptions of our place in the Universe – a Universe that still holds many mysteries to solve.”

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James Peebles (L), Didier Queloz (C) and Michel Mayor (R) share the nine million kronor prize

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Previous winners of the Nobel Prize in Physics

Image copyright
S.Ossokine/A.Buonanno (MPI Gravitational Physics)

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A computer simulation of gravitational waves radiating from two merging black holes

2018 – Donna Strickland, Arthur Ashkin and Gerard Mourou were awarded the prize for their discoveries in the field of laser physics.

2017 – Rainer Weiss, Kip Thorne and Barry Barish earned the award for the detection of gravitational waves.

2016 – David Thouless, Duncan Haldane and Michael Kosterlitz shared the award for their work on rare phases of matter.

2015 – Takaaki Kajita and Arthur McDonald were awarded the prize the discovery that neutrinos switch between different “flavours”.

2014 – Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano and Shuji Nakamura won the physics Nobel for developing the first blue light-emitting diodes (LEDs).

2013 – Francois Englert and Peter Higgs shared the spoils for formulating the theory of the Higgs boson particle.

2012 – Serge Haroche and David J Wineland were awarded the prize for their work with light and matter.




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