Brian Schmidt -- one of three U.S.-born scientists who won the Nobel Prize in physics on Tuesday for discovering that the universe is expanding at an accelerating pace -- has an Alaska connection.

The 44-year-old astronomer who now lives in Australia went to school in Alaska. Heather Sawyer, a spokeswoman for the Anchorage School District, says Schmidt graduated from Bartlett High School in 1985.

Schmidt, along with Saul Perlmutter and Adam Riess, overturned the conventional idea that the universe was expanding slowly more than 13 billion years after the big bang. The three discovered that the universe is expanding at an accelerated rate, and that perhaps something scientists call "dark energy" is pushing the universe apart. They made the discovery by looking at dozens of exploding stars called supernovas.