NASA High School Intern Discovers New Planet

17-Year-Old NASA Intern Discovers New Planet in the First Week of Internship

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Ryleigh Whittaker, Staff Writer

On January 12, NASA announced the findings of a new planet orbiting two stars. The planet was actually discovered last summer by a high school intern named Wolf Cukier. He discovered the new planet just in his first week of the internship. 

According to Time, Cukier said, “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.”

When Cukier arrived to the internship he was assigned to look at star brightness variations that was being recorded by the programs, Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite or TESS. 

According to NATV Cukier said, “About three days into my internship, I saw a signal from a system called TOI 1338b. At first, I thought it was a stellar eclipse, but the timing was wrong. It turned out to be a planet.”

The planet is much like the planet of Tatooine from Star Wars films. It is also the first type of planet like this to be investigated on the TESS mission.

According to CNN, “The planet TOI 1338 b was found 1,300 light-years away in the Pictor constellation. It’s the only planet in the system with two stars. It’s between the sizes of Neptune and Saturn and experiences regular eclipses from its stars.”

NASA greatly thanks Cukier for his discovery because without him, this planet might not have ever been found. To this date, there has been roughly 3,700 planets found.