Nobel Prize in Physics awarded to three scientists for universe research

Thursday, 10 Oct, 2019

"In October 1995, Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz announced the first discovery of a planet outside our solar system, an exoplanet, orbiting a solar-type star in our home galaxy, the Milky Way".

"This year's Laureates have transformed our ideas about the cosmos", the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said on awarding the 9 million Swedish crown ($910,000) prize.

Princeton University Professor Emeritus James Peebles is the astrophysicist who won the Nobel for his seminal theoretical predictions about the early universe and formation of galaxies.

"Their discoveries have forever changed our conceptions of the world", the jury said.

'Maybe we can discover some form of life.

The citation added that the Physics Prize rewards "new understanding of the universe's structure and history, and the first discovery of a planet orbiting a solar-type star outside our solar system".

Astronomers have long believed that there are other sun-like stars that possess their planets circling around. That year the two discovered exoplanet 51 Pegasi b (named after the star it orbits) - a gas giant planet about half the size of Jupiter that circles a star comparable to our sun.

"Were it not for the theoretical discoveries of James Peebles, the wonderful, high-precision measurements of the [cosmic background radiation] over the last 20 years would have told us nearly nothing", academy member Mats Larsson said.

"Here in Winnipeg and Manitoba, we certainly do claim him", says Andrew Frey, an associate professor of physics at the University of Winnipeg.

"I do hope that this Nobel Prize will help give a further boost for this fascinating question when we think about life on another planet", said Queloz.

While Peebles's works have established a framework to understand how the universe has evolved since the Big Bang, Mayor and Queloz's works have expanded the horizon of our knowledge about the planetary systems by their hunt for unknown planets. "It gives me tremendous pleasure, on behalf of our community, to congratulate the University of Cambridge's latest Nobel Prize victor".

His advice to young people entering science today: "You should enter it for the love and fascination of science".

Isabel Sander, a second-year physics and astronomy student at the University of Manitoba, said knowing she attends the same school a Nobel Prize victor once did is inspiring.

Peebles made major theoretical contributions that improved the understanding of the universe, including the cosmic microwave background, dark matter, dark energy, and the Big Bang model. His research will serve as the basis of future discoveries in dark matter and dark energy, and their impact on the universe.

He will receive half the prize while Mayor and Queloz will share the rest.

William G Kaelin Jr, Peter J Ratcliffe and Gregg L Semenza received the award jointly from the Nobel Committee.

Peebles was speaking over the phone on Tuesday to reporters at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, minutes after learning of his Nobel win.

The winners of the Nobel Prizes in Chemistry, Literature, Economic Sciences and the Peace Prize are all due to be announced over the next few days. This year will see two literature Prizes handed out because the one last year was suspended after a scandal rocked the Swedish Academy.