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Physics Nobel honors the discovery of exoplanets and the evolution of the universe

Kay Nietfeld/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

By Science News Staff

The 2019 Nobel Prize in Physics has been awarded to three scientists for their discovery of planets outside the solar system and work in understanding the evolution of the universe.

The three new Nobel laureates are James Peebles, of Princeton University, and Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz, both of the University of Geneva in Switzerland. In the 1980s, Peebles used theoretical tools and calculations to trace the evolution of the universe from the big bang almost 14 billion years ago. His results showed that the visible universe of stars and galaxies is just a small fraction of the total mass and energy in the universe, laying the groundwork for research into dark matter and dark energy, two unseen components. 

Mayor and Queloz are pioneers in the burgeoning field of exoplanets. In 1995, they discovered the first planet outside our solar system orbiting a sun-like star. It was called 51 Pegasi. They pioneered the use of spectrographs to look for the tiny Doppler shifts in the wavelengths of the starlight, due to the tug of the unseen planet at opposite ends of its orbit. Since their discovery, thousands of other exoplanets have been found. 

This is a developing story.

Source: Science Mag