OCT 09, 2019 6:00 AM PDT

2019 Nobel Prize in Physics: Exoplanets and the Evolution of Our Universe

WRITTEN BY: Daniel Duan

James Peebles, Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz (Nobel Prize)

This Tuesday, October 8th, the Nobel Prize committee announced the winners of this year's Physics Nobel. Canadian-American cosmologist James Peebles, alongside Swiss astronomers Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz, were honored for their contributions to "our understanding of the evolution of the universe and Earth's place in the cosmos". 

Among the laureates, James Peebles received half of the prize for his work in physical cosmology. The theoretical framework about the structure of our universe he has been building since the 1960s provides a solid foundation for other scientists to build on.

According to the Big Bang theory, since its birth around 14 billion years ago, our universe has been undergoing fast expansion, getting larger, cooler, and less dense over time. 

The cosmic microwave background (CMB) is the remnant microwave signal from the younger universe. Therefore, it's also known as "relic radiation". It carries a lot of information regarding the evolution of our universe. With his innovative theoretical ideas and vigorous calculation, Peebles not only predicted the existence of CMB before its detection but also helped to unravel the physical structure based on CMB measurement. He turned cosmology, formerly just a field full of speculative ideas, into a measurable and quantitative science. What's more, he also contributed to formulate the dark matter dilemma in the early 1970s. 

Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz jointly shared the other half of the prize for their work on finding exoplanets. In 1995, the two Swiss astronomers announced their discovery of a planet outside the Solar System, first of its kind. 

Using the Haute-Provence Observatory located in southern France, Mayor and Queloz discovered 51 Pegasi b, an exoplanet in the constellation of Pegasus, which is about 50 light-years away from us. The planet is a gas giant like Jupiter.

Ever since then, the hunt for exoplanet has gradually become a substantial component of astronomy. By now, around 4,000 of them have been discovered. Their existence challenged scientists about their previous perception of the origin of planets. The finding of exoplanets also gives a boost to the pursuit of another grant question in science and humanity: is there other life form out there in the universe?

Interview about the 2019 Nobel Prize in Physics (Nobel Prize)

Source: Nobel Prize

About the Author
  • Graduated with a bachelor degree in Pharmaceutical Science and a master degree in neuropharmacology, Daniel is a radiopharmaceutical and radiobiology expert based in Ottawa, Canada. With years of experience in biomedical R&D, Daniel is very into writing. He is constantly fascinated by what's happening in the world of science. He hopes to capture the public's interest and promote scientific literacy with his trending news articles. The recurring topics in his Chemistry & Physics trending news section include alternative energy, material science, theoretical physics, medical imaging, and green chemistry.
You May Also Like
JUN 07, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
Creating Human Cells with Some Squid-Like Qualities
JUN 07, 2020
Creating Human Cells with Some Squid-Like Qualities
Their cells of cephalopods like squid and octopuses can change in incredible ways to create living camouflage.
JUN 05, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
Wearable bio-ink detects and quantifies biological conditions and molecules
JUN 05, 2020
Wearable bio-ink detects and quantifies biological conditions and molecules
A new wearable sensing technology developed by researchers at Tufts University’s School of Engineering is describe ...
JUN 17, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
Mapping the heliosphere with IBEX
JUN 17, 2020
Mapping the heliosphere with IBEX
A study published in The Astrophysical Journal Supplements reports findings from NASA’s Interstellar Boundary Expl ...
JUN 24, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
How to Enable Computers to Solve Increasingly Complex Problems? Make Them "Think" Like a Metal
JUN 24, 2020
How to Enable Computers to Solve Increasingly Complex Problems? Make Them "Think" Like a Metal
In metal works, the term annealing refers to a treatment with heat that increases the elasticity of a metal material. Si ...
JUL 17, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
Converting seawater into fuel requires a special catalyst
JUL 17, 2020
Converting seawater into fuel requires a special catalyst
In new research published in Energy & Environmental Science, chemical engineers from the University of Rochester, th ...
JUL 22, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
Scientists Obtained Clues on the Mysteriously Fast Movement of Earth's Magnetic Poles
JUL 22, 2020
Scientists Obtained Clues on the Mysteriously Fast Movement of Earth's Magnetic Poles
Earth's magnetic poles have been on a hasty move in the last two decades. Recently, the geoscientists at Leeds Unive ...
Loading Comments...