Joseph H. Taylor Jr.
Born: 29 March 1941, Philadelphia, PA, USA
Affiliation at the time of the award: Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, USA
Prize motivation: "for the discovery of a new type of pulsar, a discovery that has opened up new possibilities for the study of gravitation"
Prize share: 1/2
Pulsars are very compact stars that radiate radio waves with very regular variations. In 1974 James Taylor and Russell Hulse discovered a pulsar comprised of two stars in very close proximity that rotate around each other. Taylor and Hulse could demonstrate that the stars' radiation and movements correspond with Einstein's general theory of relativity. Among other things, this theory predicts that the pulsar would emit energy in the form of gravitational waves, which should result in slowly declining intervals. Taylor was able to confirm this in 1978.