Press Release

Nobel Prize Resources from the American Institute of Physics

By SpaceRef Editor
October 8, 2019
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The 2019 Nobel Prize in physics was awarded today to James Peebles, Michel Mayor, and Didier Queloz “for contributions to our understanding of the evolution of the universe and Earth’s place in the cosmos.”

“Today’s announcement of the 2019 Nobel Prize in physics highlights the critical role of astrophysical theory and observations in redefining our understanding of the evolution of the universe and our place in it,” said Steve Mackwell, deputy executive officer of the American Institute of Physics (AIP). “AIP congratulates James Peebles, Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz for their seminal work that has changed our view of the cosmos.”

To help journalists and the public understand the context of this work, AIP has compiled a physics Nobel Prize resources page featuring relevant scientific papers, quotes from experts, photos, and other resources. Relevant papers published by AIP Publishing will be made freely available. The page can be accessed at,UFZR,5FE9BP,343TN,1


After hundreds of thousands of years of expansion following the Big Bang, the universe cooled down and became transparent to light. This separation between dark and light matter was the focus of this year’s Nobel Prize in physics, awarded for “contributions to our understanding of the evolution of the universe and Earth’s place in the cosmos.” The prize was awarded jointly to James Peebles, Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz.

Separating the Dark …

Albert Einstein first predicted in 1917 what we now call dark matter. By the time discoveries relating to this prediction won the Nobel Prize in 2011, scientists learned that it makes up 27% of our known universe.

When James Peebles learned about the cosmic microwave background in the mid-1960s, he knew this radiation was important, creating a theoretical framework for our current understanding of the universe. Over the next few decades, he developed and used new theoretical tools to uncover missing, dark components of our universe. He was awarded half of this year’s Nobel Prize in Physics for his theoretical discoveries in physical cosmology.

… from the Light

Contrasting Peebles’ contributions to our knowledge of the dark side of the universe, Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz shared half of the Nobel Prize for their cosmic discoveries so close they’re visible to the naked eye.

About 50 light-years away in the Pegasus constellation, a planet orbits a star like our own Sun. In 1995, Mayor and Queloz noticed a subtle red- and blue-shifting of this star, characteristic behavior of a star being wobbled by an orbiting planet.

This was the first discovery of an exoplanet orbiting a solar-type star.

What was particularly surprising about this observation was how different the planet — 51 Pegasi b — is from the Earth. It is large, hot and has a very short orbital period. This was unexpected to astronomers.

This discovery opened the door to learning there are many different types of planetary systems in the universe. There may be billions of planetary neighbors in our own Milky Way.

The joint discoveries of Peebles, Mayor and Queloz paint a new picture of our universe and our understanding of our place in it.

Statement From AIP CEO Michael Moloney: 
“AIP is delighted to congratulate James Peebles, Michel Mayor, and Didier Queloz on being awarded this year’s Nobel Prize in physics,” said Michael Moloney, the chief executive officer of AIP. “Their groundbreaking work on discovering the fundamental nature of the universe and new worlds in distant solar systems has opened up whole new areas of research in cosmology and exoplanet science. The discovery of a planet orbiting a star outside our own system has changed our perceptions of our place in the universe — a universe that still holds many mysteries to solve.”

Key Papers from AIP Publishing and Physics Today

“Phenomenology of the Invisible Universe”
P. J. E. Peebles
AIP Conference Proceedings 1241, 175 (2010)

“Spectroscopic Parameters for 451 Stars in the HARPS GTO Planet Search Program: Stellar [Fe/H] and the Frequency of Exo-Neptunes”
S.G. Sousa, N.C. Santos, M. Mayor, S. Udry, L. Casangrande, G. Israelian, F. Pepe, D. Queloz and M.J.P.F.G. Monteiro
AIP Conference Proceedings 1094, 477 (2009)

Additional papers by each laureate can be found and accessed for free at

Links to AIP Nobel Prize Resources

Main AIP Nobel Prize Website:

William F. Meggers Gallery of Nobel Laureates:

Physics Today Nobel Prize Coverage:

Inside Science Nobel Coverage:      

Larry Frum
AIP Media Line
+1 301-209-3090

AIP Publishing is a wholly owned not-for-profit subsidiary of the American Institute of Physics (AIP). AIP Publishing’s mission is to support the charitable, scientific and educational purposes of AIP through scholarly publishing activities in the fields of the physical and related sciences on its own behalf and on behalf of our publishing partners to help them proactively advance their missions.

SpaceRef staff editor.