School of Physics and Astronomy

Congratulations to 2019 Physics Nobel Prize winners!

The School of Physics and Astronomy warmly congratulates this year's winners of the Nobel Prize in Physics: Jim Peebles, "for theoretical discoveries in physical cosmology", and Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz, "for the discovery of an exoplanet orbiting a solar-type star."

11 October 2019

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A map of fluctuations in the Cosmic Microwave Background, as measured by the ESA Planck satellite (Credit: ESA).

Jim Peebles helped turn cosmology from a speculative area of theoretical physics into a quantitative science, becoming one of the founding fathers of "physical cosmology". His theoretical work underpinned the first successful detection of the Cosmic Microwave Background radiation, later turning it into a rich source of information on the early Universe. His numerous other contributions to cosmology include developing the theory behind the formation of the large-scale structure of the Universe, and one of the first models of Dark Energy.

It is difficult to over-estimate the influence of Mayor and Queloz on modern astronomy. Before they discovered the first exoplanet 51 Pegasi b in 1995, there were still astronomers who questioned whether we would ever be able to observe planets outside of the Solar System. Today more than 4000 exoplanet systems are known! 

The Astronomy Unit in the School of Physics and Astronomy at Queen Mary has a long and proud tradition of doing research in both areas. Groups in the Astronomy Unit study both theoretical and observational aspects of cosmology and planet science, ranging from modelling the early Universe and studying the large-scale structure of the cosmos, to theoretical studies of planet formation and discovering the closest exoplanet system, Proxima Centauri.