The Nobel Prize in Physics 2011 goes to Saul Perlmutter, Brian P. Schmidt, Adam G. Riess for their discovery about the final destiny of the Universe.
They have studied several dozen exploding stars, called supernovae, and discovered that the Universe is expanding at an ever-accelerating rate.
In 1998, cosmology was shaken at its foundations as two research teams presented their findings. Headed by Saul Perlmutter, one of the teams had set to work in 1988. Brian Schmidt headed another team, launched at the end of 1994, where Adam Riess was to play a crucial role.
The teams used a particular kind of supernova, called type Ia supernova. The two research teams found over 50 distant supernovae whose light was weaker than expected – a sign that the expansion of the Universe was accelerating.
For almost a century, the Universe has been known to be expanding as a consequence of the Big Bang about 14 billion years ago. However, the discovery that this expansion is accelerating is astounding. If the expansion will continue to speed up the Universe will end in ice.
The acceleration is thought to be driven by dark energy, but what that dark energy is remains an enigma – perhaps the greatest in physics today. What is known is that dark energy constitutes about three quarters of the Universe. Therefore the findings of the 2011 Nobel Laureates in Physics have helped to unveil a Universe that to a large extent is unknown to science.
They will share the 10 million kronor ($1.5 million) award.
Last year, the Nobel Prize in Physics was won by two Russian-born scientists, Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov at Manchester University, for their experiments with graphene, the strongest and thinnest material known.
188 people have received the NobelPrize in Physics since 1901. Among them 2 are women.