Exploring the universe

Nobel prize in Physics for the discovery of an Exoplanet

Tomorrow in Stockholm will the ceremony for the Nobel Prize in Physics be held.

The Swedish chemist and the inventor of dynamite, Alfred Nobel. Died 10 December 1896 in San Remo Italy. Nobel was also a very rich businessman and he was before his death very concerned that the world would not remember him after his death. So he wrote a testament that his fortune should be used to award big contributions to science. The prizes were in Chemistry, Literature, Peace, Physics, and Physiology. The prizes were first awarded in 1901 and Wilhelm Röntgen received the prize in Physics for the detection of electromagnetic radiation in wavelength of X-rays. This year's prize in Physics goes to James Peebles the father of modern cosmology. Peebles has done achievements in cosmology since 1970 and much modern cosmology is based on his ideas and calculations.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

He will share the prize with Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz for their discovery of the first exoplanet orbiting a sun-like star. The first exoplanet discovered was 51 Pegasi b. 51 Pegasi is 50 lightyears from earth in the constellation Pegasus and is like our sun a G-type star. The star has an exoplanet 51 pegasi b that is 150 times more massive than Earth and is located at a distance of 0.05 AU from its star with an obit of 4 days it is a so-called hot Jupiter. Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz discovered the planet by measuring the variation of the color from the starlight. The method is based on the concept that a planet system is orbiting around its centrum of mass and when the star moves from us the color of the light will shift towards red. The discovery was made on October 6, 1995. At the time the scientist thought that planetary systems around other stars always was formed in the same way as ours. The discovery came as a surprise. Now we have found that hot Jupiters are common and the scientists had to rethink their theories about how planetary systems are formed.

51 Peg b