The Nobel Prize in Physics 2019
Born: 12 January 1942, Lausanne, Switzerland
Affiliation at the time of the award: University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland
Prize motivation: “for the discovery of an exoplanet orbiting a solar-type star”
Prize share: 1/4
Michel Mayor was born in Lausanne, Switzerland. After studying at the University of Lausanne, he attended the Geneva Observatory, which is affiliated with the University of Geneva. He earned his doctorate in astronomy in 1971 and became a professor in 1988. He has worked for periods at the University of Cambridge, the European Southern Observatory in Chile and the University of Hawaii.
Fundamental questions about the universe’s structure and history have always fascinated human beings. In 1995, Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz announced the first discovery of a planet outside our solar system, an exoplanet, orbiting a solar-type star in our home galaxy, the Milky Way. Using custom-made instruments, they were able to see planet 51 Pegasi b, in the Pegasus constellation. Since then over 4,000 exoplanets have been found in the Milky Way. Eventually, we may find an answer to the eternal question of whether other life is out there.