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Dark energy pioneers scoop physics Nobel

Three scientists won the Nobel Prize in Physics for discovering that the universe's expansion is accelerating, shattering their own expectations and raising questions about the dark energy behind the surge.

Saul Perlmutter (52), of the University of California at Berkeley will get half of the 10 million-Swedish-kronor (R7.4 crore) prize, while Brian P Schmidt (44) of the Australian National University in Canberra and Adam G Riess (41) of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore will split the rest, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said in Stockholm.

"The observation has changed our understanding of the universe," said physicist Olga Botner for the Nobel prize committee at a press conference in Stockholm, Sweden. "This discovery is fundamental and a milestone for cosmology."

The trio studied what are called Type 1a supernovae, determining that more distant objects seem to move faster. Their observations suggest that not only is the Universe expanding, its expansion is relentlessly speeding up.

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