The Nobel Prize for Physics Awarded To Three Astronomers

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Three astronomers James Peebles, Michel Mayor, and Didier Queloz won Nobel Prize for Physics 2019.

Their Discovery

  • The prize is awarded for their research that helped us understand our place in the Universe.
  • James Pebbles, the Canadian-American cosmologist won the prize for his theoretical work that helped us understand the aftermath of Big Bang.
  • Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz won the prize for their discovery of an exoplanet that changed the notion of how planets were perceived.

Peebles

  • Peebles used theoretical physics and calculations to interpret the aftermath of the big bang.
  • He focused largely on Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) radiation which is electromagnetic radiation that is now substantially cooled after the big bang.
  • In 1964, radio astronomers Penzias and Robert Wilson detected CMB through detectors which led to their Nobel in 1978.
  • But, they later found that Peebles had already theorized about CMB.
  • It is the work of Peebles that made us understand how matter is created and later led to galaxies and galaxy clusters.
  • Through his work we now know that Universe is 5% matter, 26% dark matter and 69% is dark energy.

Exoplanets

  • While space telescopes like Kepler and Hubble are finding exoplanets frequently now, the first exoplanet was discovered only inn1992.
  • Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz made their discovery in 1995.
  • They discovered an exoplanet orbiting a star 50 light years away called 51 Pegasus.
  • The planet is named 51 Pegasus b.
  • Using a spectrograph, ELODIE, Mayor and his team observed the “Doppler effect” of the planet.
  • Doppler effect is when the star wobbles as an effect of a planet’s gravity on it observed light.
  • The planet was a hot gas giant. Until then gas giants were presumed to be cold worlds and formed far away from the star.
  • The discovery started a revolution in astronomy and more and more planets are being discovered now.

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