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Three Scientists Win Nobel Prize in Physics for Contributions to Cosmology

The committee said Peebles developed the framework that forms "the basis of our contemporary ideas about the universe"

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Scientists, Nobel Prize, Physics
A screen displays the portraits of the laureates of the 2019 Nobel Prize in Physics (L-R) James Peebles, Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz, during a news conference at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm, Sweden, October 8, 2019. VOA

Three scientists have been awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for their work in helping understand “the evolution of the universe and the Earth’s place in the cosmos.”

The Nobel Committee announced Tuesday that half of the $918,000 prize was going to James Peebles, citing contributions to understanding how the universe evolved after the Big Bang.

The committee said Peebles developed the framework that forms “the basis of our contemporary ideas about the universe.”

The other half of the award went to Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz.

Scientists, Nobel Prize, Physics
The Nobel Committee announced Tuesday that half of the $918,000 prize was going to James Peebles, citing contributions to understanding how the universe evolved after the Big Bang. Pixabay

In 1995, they announced the first discovery of a planet outside of our solar system that orbits a solar-type star.

Since then, researchers have found more than 4,000 exoplanets in the Milky Way galaxy.

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“With numerous projects planned to start searching for exoplanets, we may eventually find an answer to the eternal question of whether other life is out there,” the committee said. (VOA)

Next Story

Chinese Researchers Spot Monster Black Hole Bigger Than Sun

Chinese team spots monster black hole which is 70 times bigger than Sun

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Black Hole
A team of Chinese scientists spotted a black hole that is 70 times larger than the sun. (Representational Image Only). Wikimedia Commons

A team led by Chinese researchers has spotted a monster black hole with a mass 70 times greater than Sun — toppling the earlier assumption that the mass of an individual black hole in our Galaxy is no more than 20 times that of Sun.

Our Milky Way Galaxy is estimated to contain 100 million stellar black holes — cosmic bodies formed by the collapse of massive stars and so dense even light can’t escape.

The team, headed by Professor LIU Jifeng of the National Astronomical Observatory of China of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (NAOC), spotted a stellar black hole with a mass 70 times greater than the Sun.

The monster black hole is located 15 thousand light-years from Earth and has been named “LB-1” by the researchers in a paper reported in the journal Nature.

“Black holes of such mass should not even exist in our Galaxy, according to most of the current models of stellar evolution,” said LIU.

“We thought that very massive stars with the chemical composition typical of our Galaxy must shed most of their gas in powerful stellar winds, as they approach the end of their life. Therefore, they should not leave behind such a massive remnant,” he explained.

Spotting black hole
The monster black hole is located 15 thousand light-years from Earth. (Representational Image Only). Wikimedia Commons

Until just a few years ago, stellar black holes could only be discovered when they gobbled up gas from a companion star.

The vast majority of stellar black holes in our Galaxy are not engaged in a cosmic banquet, though, and thus don’t emit revealing X-rays.

As a result, only about two dozen Galactic stellar black holes have been well identified and measured.

To counter this limitation, LIU and collaborators surveyed the sky with China’s Large Sky Area Multi-Object Fiber Spectroscopic Telescope (LAMOST).

After the initial discovery, the world’s largest optical telescopes – Spain’s 10.4-m Gran Telescopio Canarias and the 10-m Keck I telescope in the US – were used to determine the system’s physical parameters.
The results were nothing short of fantastic: a star eight times heavier than the Sun was seen orbiting a 70-solar-mass black hole, every 79 days.

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The direct sighting of LB-1 proves that this population of over-massive stellar black holes exists even in our own backyard.

“This discovery forces us to re-examine our models of how stellar-mass black holes form,” said LIGO Director Professor David Reitze from University of Florida in the US. (IANS)