Members of the Nobel Commitee announce the 2019 Nobel Prize in physics. Photo: Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images

Three scientists were awarded the 2019 Nobel Prize in physics on Tuesday for their work to understand the universe on a grand scale.

Why it matters: The discoveries made by these laureates have changed the way scientists understand planets outside our solar system and the evolution of the cosmos.

Winners: Two of the scientists — Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz — were honored for discovering the first planet orbiting a sunlike star far from our own.

  • Mayor and Queloz will split the prize with James Peebles, who won for his theoretical framework that explains the history of the universe.

The impact: Mayor and Queloz's discovery of the planet 51 Pegasi b in 1995 effectively ushered in a new age of astrophysics.

  • Since then, more than 4,000 planets outside of our solar system — called exoplanets — have been discovered, revealing the huge diversity of worlds out there in the universe.
  • While no true "Earth 2.0" has yet been confirmed, it's not far-fetched to think that astronomers one day could find a world capable of supporting life outside of our solar system.

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