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Armenian award for Swiss astronomer

Astronomer Michel Mayor of Geneva university was presented with the first international Viktor Ambartsumian prize in the Armenian capital of Yerevan on Thursday.

This content was published on September 17, 2010 - 20:30
swissinfo.ch

Mayor was awarded the prize along with two of his colleagues, Garik Israelian and Nuno Santos, for their research into planets outside the solar system – so-called exoplanets.

He was the first person ever to demonstrate the existence of such planets, 15 years ago. Although many more have since been discovered, the formation of such planetary systems remains a puzzle.

"In the past past years Michel Mayor and his international team have managed to determine the physical and chemical properties of stars wtih exoplanets. The results of the team’s research are very important for models describing the formation of planets," said a media release by the Swiss Academy of Science which proposed him for the award.

The prize was established by Armenian president Serzh Sargsyan in 2009. It is named after an Armenian astrophysicist and is worth $500,000 (SFr505,000). It is to be awarded every two years.

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