Though he knew he had been nominated several times before, the Swiss professor said he was "absolutely not expecting this." He told reporters after arriving at Madrid airport that the award follows "a long, long period of work, with colleagues. It's a huge honor."
Mayor, 77, and Didier Queloz, 53, both of the University of Geneva, were honored for finding an exoplanet — a planet outside our solar system that orbits a sun-like star. It could help us figure out whether life exists elsewhere in the universe.
Mayor says that "maybe we can discover some form of life, we don't know what kind of form." He says scientists have now identified more than 4,000 exoplanets. Mayor says scientists "are absolutely certain that a lot of these planets have good conditions for life."
Mayor was scheduled to speak later this week at scientific events in Spain.
Princeton University cosmologist James Peebles says he answered a 5:30 a.m. phone call on Tuesday thinking "it's either something very wonderful or it's something horrible."
His fear quickly gave way to fulfillment: Peebles had won a Nobel Prize in Physics for his theoretical discoveries in cosmology.
The 84-year-old Canadian-American said "there was a formality" to the call as he was asked, "Will you accept this award?" He did.
Hours later, a clearly delighted Peebles giggled throughout an interview with The Associated Press. He said "I've always loved Bob Dylan" and referred to the singer-songwriter winning the 2016 literature prize and refusing to participate in Nobel ceremonies.
Peebles said, laughing: "I can't forgive him for not showing up to the scene of (his) Nobel prize....It's very disconcerting."
He said he looks forward to traveling to the Swedish capital with his wife and two surviving children to accept his prize since "we haven't been to Stockholm for many years."
Swiss astronomer Didier Queloz was meeting with other academics who are interested in finding new planets when the press office at Cambridge University interrupted to tell him the big news: He had won a Nobel Prize in Physics.
Queloz thought it was joke at first. Then he "could barely breathe." But he deemed his experience hearing about the monumental honor that swamped his emotions and made his hand shake on Tuesday and as "the perfect way to bring me back to reality."
Queloz told the Associated Press: "The good part was I was surrounded by all my colleagues. That was really helpful - old friends, the people I know for some time. It was perfect way to bring me back to reality. It's enormous. It's beyond usual emotions."
The 53-year-old Queloz, part of the Astrophysics Group of Cavendish Laboratory at Cambridge says he can't believe his good fortune since he won the prize doing work he loves.
He said: "This is just a dream job"
A University of Cambridge astronomer says the work that earned three scientists the 2019 Nobel Prize in Physics "highlights astronomy as the grandest of the environmental sciences."
Emeritus Professor Martin Rees said the work recognized Tuesday reflects an apparent broadening of the Nobel committee's criteria for the physics prize.
He says astronomy typically has been included when a discovery involves a new element of physics, such as neutron stars or gravitational waves.
The scientists won this years' physics prize for their contribution to the understanding of the evolution of the universe and "Earth's place in the cosmos."
One half was given to James Peebles "for theoretical discoveries in physical cosmology," and the other half to Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz "for the discovery of an exoplanet orbiting a solar-type star."
Rees said in a statement that Queloz and Mayor's discovery of the first planet orbiting an ordinary star "has led to the discovery of many thousands of other planetary systems."
He called Peebles "the most influential and respected leader of empirical cosmology" spanning half a century.
A member of the Swedish Science Academy has recited the first lines of the theme song of TV show "The Big Bang Theory" that "our whole universe was in a hot, dense state. Then nearly 14 billion years ago expansion started ..."
At a news conference where the winners were announced, professor Ulf Danielsson used a transparent cup with black coffee, poured milk in it and added a pinch of sugar to illustrate the work of the laureates of the 2019 Nobel Prize in Physics— James Peebles, Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz.
He added, "This is the dark energy, then a fair amount of cream, this is the dark matter, and then just a tiny little bit of sugar. This is the ordinary matter, this is what science has been all about for thousands of years."
Danielsson went on, "We had thought that other solar systems would be similar to our own. We were wrong."
Peebles was cited "for theoretical discoveries in physical cosmology" while Mayor and Queloz "for the discovery of an exoplanet orbiting a solar-type star."
Two Swiss scientists are celebrating their Nobel Prize in Physics for discovering a planet outside our solar system orbiting a solar-type star.
The University of Geneva has quoted Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz as saying that "this discovery is the most exciting of our whole career and for it to be rewarded with a Nobel Prize is simply extraordinary."
Mayor and Queloz announced their discovery of the planet, known as 51 Pegasi B, 24 years ago. Mayor recalled that "no one knew whether exoplanets existed or not. Prestigious astronomers had been searching for them for years, in vain!"
Canada-born James Peebles, who won the other half of the award "for theoretical discoveries in physical cosmology," was asked what he would tell young scientists. He told a news conference that "you should enter it for the love of science. You should enter science because you are fascinated by it."
Three scientists have won the 2019 Nobel Prize in Physics for their contribution to the understanding of the evolution of the universe and "Earth's place in the cosmos."
One half of the award was given to James Peebles "for theoretical discoveries in physical cosmology," and the other half jointly to Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz "for the discovery of an exoplanet orbiting a solar-type star."
They will share a 9-million kronor ($918,000) cash award, a gold medal and a diploma. The laureates will receive them at a ceremony in Stockholm on Dec. 10.
The 2019 Nobel Prize in Physics will be awarded Tuesday, a day after two Americans and one British scientist were awarded the award for Physiology or Medicine.
This year, the Nobel week will include an award in chemistry — to be announced Wednesday — two literature laureates, the coveted Nobel Peace Prize and the economics award.
This year's double-header Literature Prizes will be awarded Thursday and the Peace Prize will be announced on Friday. The economics prize will be awarded on Oct. 14.
The 2018 literature prize was suspended after a scandal rocked the Swedish Academy. The body plans to award it this year, along with announcing the 2019 laureate.
Read more stories on the 2019 Nobel Prizes by The Associated Press at https://www.apnews.com/NobelPrizes