17-Year-Old Discovers New Planet 6.9 Times Larger Than The Earth On Just His Third Day Of An Internship With NASA

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17-Year-Old Discovers New Planet 6.9 Times Larger Than Earth On Just His Third Day Of An Internship With NASA

A 17-year-old who was on his third day of an internship with NASA has discovered a brand new planet 6.9 times the size of Earth.

Wolf Cukier from New York landed a dream internship with NASA in 2019 and was soon working at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Tasked with examining variations in light captured by NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, known as (TESS), he soon discovered a weird anomaly. After bringing this to the attention of the scientists he was working with, who then carried out their own lengthy investigations, it was revealed that the strange light was in fact a previously unknown planet.

It is only now that NASA have declared the existence of the planet to the scientific community. While it may be thought that the planet would be named after Wolf, it was in fact given the name "TOI 1338 b", a slightly less than exciting official name.

Wolf said of his discovery:

"I was looking through the data for everything the volunteers had flagged as an eclipsing binary, a system where two stars circle around each other, and from our view eclipse each other every orbit. About three days into my internship, I saw a signal from a system called TOI 1338. At first I thought it was a stellar eclipse, but the timing was wrong. It turned out to be a planet."

He added:

"I noticed a dip, or a transit, from the TOI 1338 system, and that was the first signal of a planet. I first saw the initial dip and thought, 'Oh that looked cool,' but then when I looked at the full data from the telescope at that star, I, and my mentor also noticed, three different dips in the system … I discovered a planet. It has two stars which it orbits around. So, if you think of Luke's homeworld, Tatooine, from 'Star Wars,' it's like that. Every sunset, there's gonna be two stars setting."

The planet with two-stars is around 1,300 light-years from Earth and about 6.9 times larger than our own planet. It is the first planet discovered by TESS than orbits two-stars.

Veselin Kostov, a research scientist at Goddard, said that despite our great technological advancements, the human eye is often better spotting anomalies, or unusual things in the night sky, when compared to the computer algorithms. He said:

"These are the types of signals that algorithms really struggle with. The human eye is extremely good at finding patterns in data, especially non-periodic patterns like those we see in transits from these systems."

Wolf now wishes to go to University to study astrophysics.

h/t: CNBC

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Thinking Humanity: 17-Year-Old Discovers New Planet 6.9 Times Larger Than The Earth On Just His Third Day Of An Internship With NASA
17-Year-Old Discovers New Planet 6.9 Times Larger Than The Earth On Just His Third Day Of An Internship With NASA
A 17-year-old who was on his third day of an internship with NASA has discovered a brand new planet 6.9 times the size of Earth. Wolf Cukier from New
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