The 2019 Nobel Prize in Physics was unusual in that it was awarded â€œfor contributions to our understanding of the evolution of the universe and Earths place in the cosmosâ€, a sentence that could include anything in astronomy. Half the prize went to James Peebles "for theoretical discoveries in physical cosmologyâ€, a recognition of a lifetime of work. The other half went to Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz â€œfor the discovery of an exoplanet orbiting a solar-type starâ€, a very specific citation. I will discuss the scientific background to the exoplanet prize, beginning with its motivation in the search for other beings to the actual discovery, placing it in the context of the times. And what is Hrithiks connection? All will be revealed in the talk.
Jayant Murthy obtained his PhD from the Johns Hopkins University in 1987. He was a National Research Council Fellow at NASA/GSFC for two years and then a Research Professor at Johns Hopkins. He joined the Indian Institute of Astrophysics in 1987 where he is now a Senior Professor. Murthy works on the interstellar medium (dust and gas between stars) and also builds instruments for space flight. The latest is a proposal to fly on the Chinese Space Station as part of a United Nations program.