The Royal Astronomical Society has announced the award of a Gold Medal to Professor Michel Mayor of the University of Geneva. Prof. Mayor was, of course, the co-discoverer of the first extrasolar planet around a solar-like star, with the detection of 51 Pegasi b back in 1995. His Observatoire de Genève group developed a succession of planet-finding spectrographs that have led the way to the discovery of many hundreds of extrasolar planets.
Prof. Mayor has been an important collaborator for the WASP project, through the CORALIE spectrograph on the 1.2-m Swiss/Euler telescope at La Silla. The CORALIE spectrograph observes all WASP-South planet candidates, and the detection of the radial-velocity signature of a planet — in about 1 in 8 such candidates — is the crucial step that confirms a new planet discovery. Thus Prof. Mayor was a co-author on many of the early WASP planet papers until his retirement.
The WASP project is hugely indebted to Prof. Mayor and is honoured to have collaborated with him on WASP planet discovery. We congratulate him on the well-deserved award of the RAS Gold Medal.
Congratulations to Dr Amaury Triaud for winning the highly prestigious 2014 MERAC Prize, awarded by the European Astronomy Society for the Best Doctoral Thesis in Observational Astrophysics. Dr Triaud was a PhD student at the Geneva Observatory of the University of Geneva, supervised by Prof. Didier Queloz.
Amaury Triaud took charge of the radial-velocity campaign following up WASP-South planet candidates, using the Coralie spectrograph on the Swiss/Euler 1.2-m telescope at La Silla, and has thus played a major part on the discovery of all WASP-South transiting exoplanets. The MERAC prize highights the success of the European collaboration between the British WASP-South transit search, the Swiss Euler/Coralie spectrograph, and the Belgian-led TRAPPIST robotic photometer.
The Euler 1.2-m telescope
In addition to the planet discoveries, Amaury Triaud lead-authored a landmark paper on the dynamical origins of hot-Jupiter exoplanets, deduced by measuring the angle between the planet’s orbit and the host-star’s spin, which has already been cited 170 times. Amaury’s work provided strong evidence that hot Jupiters formed much further out than their current orbits, and were moved inwards by the Kozai mechanism.