Three scientists have won the 2019 Nobel Prize in Physics for their contribution to the understanding of the evolution of the universe and "Earth's place in the cosmos."
Two Swiss scientists, Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz, who jointly won the Nobel Physics Prize on October 8th along with a Canadian-American colleague James Peebles hailed their win as "simply extraordinary", according to AFP.
Goran Hansson, secretary-general of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, which chooses the laureates, said that half the prize was given to James Peebles "for theoretical discoveries in physical cosmology", and the other half jointly to Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz "for the discovery of an exoplanet orbiting a solar-type star".
An exoplanet is a planet outside the solar system. The very first exoplanet was named 51 Pegasi b. Today, around 2,000 exoplanets have been identified.
Geneva University said that Mayor was a professor at Geneva University and Queloz was his doctorate student when the pair on October 6th, 1995 "revolutionised the world of astrophysics by announcing the first discovery of a planet situated outside of our solar system".
News of its discovery "was like a bomb exploding in astrophysics circles", the university said.
Geneva University President Yves Fluckiger said in the statement, “This is a fantastic recognition of the work accomplished by Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz. It is testimony to the quality of their scientific process, their rigour but also to a creativity and a capacity to think and to search outside of the beaten path, which is the source of the greatest discoveries.”
Professor Hansson credited the three for their "contributions to our understanding of the evolution of the universe, and Earth's place in the cosmos".
The prize comes with a 9-million kronor ($134,800) cash award to be shared, a gold medal and a diploma.
"This year's Laureates have transformed our ideas about the cosmos," the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said. "While James Peebles' theoretical discoveries contributed to our understanding of how the universe evolved after the Big Bang, Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz explored our cosmic neighbourhoods on the hunt for unknown planets. Their discoveries have forever changed our conceptions of the world."
This was the 113th Nobel Prize in Physics awarded since 1901. Of these, 47 awards have been given to a single laureate.
Only three women have received it so far: Marie Curie in 1903, Maria Goeppert-Mayer in 1963 and Donna Strickland in 2018, according to the Nobel website.