Once again we are at the biggest day of the year for the physics community - the announcement of the 2019 Nobel Prize in Physics. And this year's recipients are well deserving of the award.

One of the details that I found particularly intriguing was that the award went to three individuals in two very different aspects of physics. Usually the Nobel committee selects a scientific achievement, and then determines which scientists contributed most to that research. But it would seem that this year they opted to give part of the award to a major achievement in astrophysics and astronomy, and then give the other part to a completely different scientific achievement. And perhaps more interesting is that, in my opinion, the second part of the award was less about a major breakthrough and more about a lifetime's work of small advances. But I digress...

The first part of the award was given to Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz, for their work in discovering and studying exoplanets. In my opinion they should have been granted a Nobel Prize many years ago, and it is great to finally see their work recognized. Back in 1995, when I was just starting my own academic career, the physics and astronomy departments were buzzing about the first confirmed observation of a planet orbiting a star outside of our own solar system. By carefully measuring the periodic dimming and brightening of a distant star, this team of astronomers were able to deduce a number of properties of this first exoplanet, including estimates of its mass, size, and distance from its host star. In the quarter century since that first discovery, astronomers on the ground and teams operating the Kepler space telescope were able to expand the catalog of exoplanets to well over 4000, including many that are believed to be habitable and similar to the Earth, and even a family of planets that exist a few dozen light years from our own. The work of Mayor and Queloz made our galaxy into a neighbourhood of planetary systems, and has launched what will likely be centuries of exploration to these distant worlds.

The second recipient of the award is James Peebles, and recognizes his over fifty year career in cosmology. His work was not so much a single leap forward, as a steady development of new ideas and new models of the Universe. The theories that he and his students developed built our current understanding of such diverse topics as dark matter, dark energy, and the properties of the cosmic microwave background that would lead to other Nobel Prizes in years past. I myself remember being a senior in high school, and reading some of his research papers on the nature of the Universe and being amazed and the beauty of cosmology. Peebles may not be as well known in popular culture as other scientists who have developed our understanding of the Big Bang, but his contributions certainly stand among the most important.

And so that is the 2019 Nobel Prize in Physics. These are three great recipients who are deserving of this recognition for their long careers in science, and for their groundbreaking research into the Universe and our corner of it. The ideas that they began will fuel our exploration of space for centuries yet to come.

Congratulations to all three of these brilliant scientists, and to all of those many students and research assistants who share in the glow of this prize. You have earned it!