Back in 1995, Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz won the Nobel Prize for their discovery of a planet that’s orbiting a distant star in the Pegasus constellation.
The 2019 Nobel Prize for Physics was awarded on Tuesday to
Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz for their incredible discovery, which they made in 1995. They were the first ones to detect a planet that’s circling a faraway star, that’s quite similar to our Sun. But before that, there were only eight planets on the map: our planets. We had no idea if the planets were common or rare in the entire universe, and this question also came with the idea of the existence of aliens.
It really was something in the world of science Mayor, and Queloz just took a look at a star from the Pegasus constellation, which is called 51 Pegasi, that’s placed at 50.45 light-years away. We can also see the light that’s coming from the star, but a telescope is not enough to see everything clearly, considering the size of the source, that’s too small. To make things clear, we cannot see the star itself. And if you cannot even see the star, then you cannot see the planet that’s orbiting it, which is smaller, too.
So how did they manage to do it? They had a great friend to help: physics. The best way to get the idea was to build a model.
51 Pegasi looks just like our Sun, maybe a little bigger. However, it is possible that you would not make a difference out of them if you’d see them closely. Then there’s this planet, that was named 51 Pegasi b, which is a gas planet, just like Jupiter, but that’s close to its star. Its orbital radius is of 0.05 astronomical units.