STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP) — Americans John C. Mather and George F. Smoot won the 2006 Nobel Prize in physics on Tuesday for work that helped cement the big-bang theory of the universe and deepen understanding of the origin of galaxies and stars.
Mather, 60, works at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., and Smoot, 61, works at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, Calif.
Their work was based on measurements done with the help of NASA's COBE satellite launched in 1989. They were able to observe the universe in its early stages about 380,000 years after it was born. Ripples in the light they detected also helped demonstrate how galaxies came together over time.
"The COBE results provided increased support for the big-bang scenario for the origin of the Universe, as this is the only scenario that predicts the kind of cosmic microwave background radiation measured by COBE," the academy said in its citation.
The big-bang theory states that the universe was born billions of years ago from a rapidly expanding dense and incredibly hot state.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.