Press "Enter" to skip to content

By’weirdo’ PhD stargazer into Nobel Physics laureate

Last updated on October 9, 2019

As a pupil astronomer scanning the heavens with homemade tools a quarter of a century past, Didier Queloz spent weeks doubting the information that led him into an inevitable conclusion: he had just found the first planet outside Earth’s solar system.

The Swiss scientist’d spent a lot of his Ph.D. research refining practices to find so-called exoplanets, which until a fateful night in October 1995 had only existed in the domain of science fiction.

Queloz along with also his colleague Michel Mayor, who on Tuesday was given the Nobel Prize for Physics for his or her work, had overcome a range of barriers within their galaxy-wide search.

They had strategically assembled their gear in the Haute-Provence Observatory in the base of the French Alps, letting them detect tiny changes in the frequency of light emitted by stars they guessed were being orbited.

They had another issue. The world they had found, called 51 Pegasi b, has been too significant.

“We’re as surprised as everyone to locate a planet because the world we discovered was bizarre and it is not at all of the ways you’d have anticipated a world to be,” Queloz told AFP Tuesday.

“I recall many discussions I had had with Michel and seeking to show that it wasn’t a world but in the end, we constantly circled back and stated that that’s the only explanation.”

Such measurements baffled the group.

“Nobody enjoys their paradigm to become angry, and weonly really wanted to think everything we had been taught in college, that Jupiters sort far from the star,” she told AFP.

“People were quite resistant, and rightly so in mathematics — you can not observe the world, you do not have a photograph of a single, you are just seeing the celebrity, the influence on the celebrity, so folks wanted to place that impact (down) to something different “

Queloz stated the group’s discovery took some time to be acknowledged since before this study exoplanets were”materials for weirdos” inside the astronomy community.

“You will find people building at the corner of a meeting speaking but nobody could formally speak about it, it was too eccentric,” he explained.

Today, due to their pioneering work, you will find over 4000 known exoplanets and countless stars believed to be orbited by these.

“We’re analyzing the roots of life and that is exactly what exoplanets do,” Queloz explained.

“That is why the area is growing. Currently, there should be 1000s of individuals working with it, which will be superb.”

“I can breathe, and it is a fantastic sign.”