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Nobel Prize in Physics Awarded for Astronomical Findings

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The 2019 Nobel Prize in physics recognizes three individuals for their contributions to understanding Earth’s place within the known universe. Half the prize goes to astrophysicist James Peebles for his “theoretical discoveries in physical cosmology,” with the other half being shared by astronomers Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz for their “discovery of an exoplanet orbiting a solar-type star outside our solar system,” with the help of the ELODIE spectrograph.

Mayor and Queloz announced the first discovery a planet outside our solar system orbiting a solar-type star in our own galaxy in October 1995. The pair utilized the ELODIE spectrograph, which is installed at the Observatoire de Haute-Provence in southeastern France, to find the planet. The instrument was located in a temperature-controlled room and fed with optical fibers from the Cassegrain focus. Mayor and Queloz discovered a giant planet, 51 Pegasi b, orbiting a star similar to the sun. The planet is a gaseous ball comparable to Jupiter.

Twenty exoplanets were subsequently discovered by the ELODIE spectrograph before the instrument was retired and replaced with the updated SOPHIE spectrograph in 2006.

The Nobel Prize winners were awarded 9 million SEK, with one half awarded to Peebles and the other half distributed jointly to Mayor and Queloz.

EuroPhotonics
Winter 2019
GLOSSARY
astronomy
The scientific observation of celestial radiation that has reached the vicinity of Earth, and the interpretation of these observations to determine the characteristics of the extraterrestrial bodies and phenomena that have emitted the radiation.
spectrograph
An optical instrument for forming the spectrum of a light source and recording it on a film. The dispersing medium may be a prism or a diffraction grating. A concave grating requires no other means to form a sharp image of the slit on the film, but a plane grating or a prism requires auxiliary lenses or concave mirrors to act as image-forming means in addition to the dispersing element. Refracting prisms can be used only in parallel light, so a collimating lens is required before the prism and...
BusinessResearch & TechnologyNobel PrizeNobel Prize in physicsastronomyawardsspectrographspectroscopyEuro News

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