Didier Queloz

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Didier Queloz

Didier Queloz, 2012 (cropped).jpg
Queloz in 2012
Born (1966-02-23) 23 February 1966 (age 54)
EducationUniversity of Geneva (MS, DEA, PhD)
Known forFirst person to find planets outside of our solar system
AwardsWolf Prize in Physics (2017)
Nobel Prize in Physics (2019)
Scientific career
ThesisRecherches liées à la spectroscopie par corrélation croisée numérique; (INTER-TACOS: guide de l'utilisateur) (1995)
Doctoral advisorMichel Mayor

Didier Patrick Queloz FRS(French pronunciation: ​[didje kəlo, kelo]; born 23 February 1966) is a Swiss astronomer. He is a professor at the University of Cambridge,[1] where he is also a fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, as well as a professor at the University of Geneva.[2] Together with Michel Mayor in 1995, he discovered 51 Pegasi b, the first extrasolar planet orbiting a sun-like star, 51 Pegasi.[3] For this discovery, he shared the 2019 Nobel Prize in Physics with James Peebles and Michel Mayor.[4][5]

Early life and education[edit]

Queloz was born in Switzerland, on 23 February 1966.[6][7]

Queloz studied at the University of Geneva where he subsequently obtained a MSc degree in physics in 1990, a DEA in Astronomy and Astrophysics in 1992, and a PhD degree in 1995 with Swiss astrophysicist Michel Mayor as his doctoral advisor.[8]

In the area of religion The Daily Telegraph reports him as saying, "although not a believer himself, “Science inherited a lot from religions”".[9]

Career and research[edit]

Queloz (left) and Michel Mayor at the La Silla Observatory, 2012

While Queloz was a PhD candidate at the University of Geneva under Mayor, Mayor had been working on improving the accuracy of detection of the radial velocity of stellar objects via Doppler spectroscopy. Mayor had previously developed the CORAVEL spectrometer that helped to measure these velocities to an accuracy of 1 km/s.[10] Mayor had found from CORAVEL that some binary star systems may in fact be single star systems with a substellar secondary object in their orbit.[11] Queloz worked with Mayor to develop ELODIE, which was able to improve the accuracy of radial velocity measurements to 15 m/s to help better resolve these star systems' features.[12]

ELODIE was installed at the Haute-Provence Observatory by 1994, and Queloz and Mayor began surveying the candidate systems. By July 1995, the pair had discovered that a large planet orbited 51 Pegasi; the planet was identified as 51 Pegasi b and determined to be of a Hot Jupiter. This was the first exoplanet to be discovered around a main sequence star.[13][14] Queloz' and Mayor's discovery launched a more intensive search for exoplanets around other stars.[15] For this achievement, they were awarded half of the 2019 Nobel Prize in Physics "for the discovery of an exoplanet orbiting a solar-type star".[5]

Since these discoveries, Queloz became a professor at the University of Geneva, and in 2013, also became a professor at the Cavendish Laboratory at the University of Cambridge.[16] He collaborated with the United Kingdom team of the Wide Angle Search for Planets (WASP) program which seeks to detect exoplanets via transit photometry, helping to provide spectrographic confirmation of their findings in 2007.[16] He also participated in CoRoT, a planetary-detection system from orbital observatories, and helped to confirm the first detection of a rocky exoplanet, COROT-7b, in 2011.[17] He is now involved in the Next Generation Transit Survey, a ground based successor to WASP. The CHEOPS science team is chaired by Queloz.[18]

He was also a visiting scientist at MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research in 2019.[19]

Queloz received the 2011 BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award of Basic Sciences (co-winner with Mayor) for developing new astronomical instruments and experimental techniques that led to the first observation of planets outside the solar system.[20] In 2017, he received the Wolf Prize in Physics[21] and in 2019, the Nobel Prize in Physics.[5]

In October 2019, related to his work in astronomy and exoplanet discoveries, Queloz predicted humans will discover extraterrestrial life in the next 30 years stating, "I can't believe we are the only living entity in the universe. There are just way [too] many planets, way too many stars, and the chemistry is universal. The chemistry that led to life has to happen elsewhere. So I am a strong believer that there must be life elsewhere."[22]

In December 2019, Queloz took issue with those who are not supportive of helping to improve climate change, stating, “I think this is just irresponsible, because the stars are so far away I think we should not have any serious hope to escape the Earth [...] Also keep in mind that we are a species that has evolved and developed for this planet. We’re not built to survive on any other planet than this one [...] We’d better spend our time and energy trying to fix it.”[23]


Named after him


  1. ^ Cavendish Astrophysics: Professor Didier Queloz www.astro.phy.cam.ac.uk, accessed 3 February 2020
  2. ^ Cambridge Press Release: Professor Didier Queloz wins 2019 Nobel Prize in Physics for first discovery of an exoplanet www.cam.ac.uk, accessed 3 February 2020
  3. ^ Mayor, Michel; Queloz, Didier (November 1995). "A Jupiter-mass companion to a solar-type star". Nature. 378 (6555): 355–59. Bibcode:1995Natur.378..355M. doi:10.1038/378355a0. S2CID 4339201.
  4. ^ "The Nobel Prize in Physics 2019". Nobel Media AB. Retrieved 8 October 2019.
  5. ^ a b c Chang, Kenneth; Specia, Megan (8 October 2019). "Nobel Prize in Physics Awarded for Studies of Earth's Place in the Universe". The New York Times. Retrieved 8 October 2019.
  6. ^ Vonarburg, Barbara (25 April 2015). "Didier Queloz". PlanetS. National Centre of Competence in Research. Retrieved 9 October 2019.
  7. ^ Johnston, Hamish (8 October 2019). "James Peebles, Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz share Nobel Prize for Physics". Physics World. Retrieved 9 October 2019.
  8. ^ Curriculum Vitae Didier Queloz - website of the University of Geneva
  9. ^ Bodkin, Henry (8 October 2019). "Cambridge University planet hunter says mankind could find alien life in 30 years as he wins Nobel prize". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 29 October 2019.
  10. ^ Hearnshaw, John B. (2014). The Analysis of Starlight: Two Centuries of Astronomical Spectroscopy. Cambridge University Press. pp. 114–116. ISBN 978-1107031746.
  11. ^ Duquennoy, Antoine; Mayor, Michel (1991). "Multiplicity among solar-type stars in the solar neighbourhood. II. Distribution of the orbital elements in an unbiased sample". Astronomy & Astrophysics. 248: 485–524. Bibcode:1991A&A...248..485D.
  12. ^ A. Baranne; D. Queloz; M. Mayor; G. Adrianzyk; G. Knispel; D. Kohler; D. Lacroix; J.-P. Meunier; G. Rimbaud; A. Vin (1996). "ELODIE: A spectrograph for accurate radial velocity measurements" (PDF). Astronomy and Astrophysics Supplement Series. 119 (2): 373–390. Bibcode:1996A&AS..119..373B. doi:10.1051/aas:1996251. Retrieved 9 October 2019.
  13. ^ Mayor, Michael; Queloz, Didier (1995). "A Jupiter-mass companion to a solar-type star". Nature. 378 (6555): 355–359. Bibcode:1995Natur.378..355M. doi:10.1038/378355a0. S2CID 4339201.
  14. ^ Overbye, Dennis (12 May 2013). "Finder of New Worlds". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 May 2014.
  15. ^ Gibney, Elizabeth (18 December 2013). "In search of sister earths". Nature. 504 (7480): 357–65. Bibcode:2013Natur.504..357.. doi:10.1038/504357a. PMID 24352276.
  16. ^ a b "Professor Didier Queloz". University of Cambridge. Retrieved 9 October 2019.
  17. ^ Hatzes, Artie P.; et al. (23 November 2011). "On the mass of CoRoT-7b". The Astrophysical Journal. 743 (1): 75. arXiv:1105.3372. Bibcode:2011ApJ...743...75H. doi:10.1088/0004-637X/743/1/75. S2CID 118588616.
  18. ^ "Who is Who in CHEOPS - CHEOPS - Cosmos". www.cosmos.esa.int. Retrieved 15 November 2019.
  19. ^ "Congratulations To MKI Visiting Scientist Didier Queloz For Being Awarded The 2019 Nobel Prize In Physics!". MIT. Retrieved 31 October 2019.
  20. ^ "The BBVA Foundation presents its Frontiers of Knowledge Awards at a ceremony enthroning science and culture as motors of development". BBVA Foundation. 12 June 2012. Retrieved 9 October 2019.
  21. ^ Gravé-Lazi, Lidar (3 January 2017). "Wolf Prize to be awarded to eight laureates from US, UK and Switzerland - Israel News -". Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 9 October 2019.
  22. ^ Bodkin, Henry (8 October 2019). "Cambridge University planet hunter says mankind could find alien life in 30 years as he wins Nobel prize". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 10 October 2019.
  23. ^ Heintz, Jim; Keyton, David (7 December 2019). "Nobel laureate: Face up to climate change, no escaping Earth". AP News . Retrieved 8 December 2019.
  24. ^ "Didier Queloz". Royal Society. Retrieved 20 September 2020.

External links[edit]

  • "SAO/NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)", query for Didier Queloz. Includes 200 abstracts with Queloz listed as an author or co-author a/o 23 February 2017.
  • Didier Queloz on Nobelprize.org Edit this at Wikidata including the Nobel Lecture on Sunday 8 December 2019 Exoplanets: 51 Pegasis b and all the others …