An astronomer from Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) has been named as one of the top ten people who mattered in science in 2016 by the prestigious scientific publisher Nature.
Dr Guillem Anglada-Escudé from QMUL’s School of Physics and Astronomy led a team of scientists that discovered the earth-sized planet called Proxima b – the results were published in the journal Nature in August.
He said: “It is an honour to appear in such a list. It’s important to note, however, that this discovery was a team effort and has drawn on the dedication and passion of many people, and the continued support to international research by several European funding agencies, including in the UK. This research is done with public resources, so success is a collective achievement.”
The annual list known as ‘Nature’s 10’ highlights researchers from around the globe who have made an impact across a number of scientific fields.
Richard Monastersky, News Features editor at Nature said: “The scientists on the 2016 Nature’s 10 list are a diverse group but they have all played important parts in major scientific events this year, with the potential to affect change on a global scale.
The research paper described a world with a similar mass to Earth orbiting around Proxima Centauri, the star nearest to the Sun. The team used facilities operated by ESO (the European Southern Observatory) and other telescopes, to conclude that Proxima b orbits its parent star every 11 days and has a temperature suitable for liquid water to exist on its surface.
It may also be the closest possible home for life outside the solar system, a cause of excitement for scientists and the public alike.
The UK’s Institute of Physics magazine, Physics World, named the discovery of Proxima b one of the top ten breakthroughs in physics in 2016. The research paper was also ranked 38 in a list of the world’s top-100 ‘most-discussed’ journal articles of 2016, known as the ‘Altmetric top 100’. The ranking was awarded to the paper based on the level of interest it has received from international mainstream media, social networks and blogs, Wikipedia, public policy documents, and comments on post-publication peer review forums.
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