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3 scientists win Nobel Prize in physics for work with exoplanets, cosmology

The room where the Nobel Prize in physics was announced
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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