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Teen NASA Intern Discovered New Planet

Teen NASA Intern Discovered New Planet

By    |   Friday, 10 January 2020 10:54 AM

A teenage intern at NASA discovered a new planet, one almost seven times the size of Earth, while reviewing research data last year, ABC News reports.

Wolf Cukier, a 17-year-old from New York, was interning at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland last summer, where he worked reviewing star brightness data collected by the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite mission, also known as TESS. Cukier, who is a senior at Scarsdale High School, noticed a spot of darkness in the sun in one system about 1,300 light-years from Earth, which was found to be a planet almost seven times larger than Earth orbiting two stars.

"I had a lot of data in my notes that day about extremities in the binaries," Cukier told ABC. "But when I saw this one, I put 10 asterisks next to it."

Researchers say that planets that orbit two stars, known as circumbinary planets, are very difficult to detect. One of the suns must first decrease in brightness, known as a transit event, so the planet isn’t completely obscured. The suns in this system, TOI 1338, orbit each other on a 15-day basis with a transit event every 93 to 95 days. Cukier said that he and his research mentors had a difficult time trying to prove what the data indicated.

"Our confidence went up and down a couple of times, but by the end of the internship, we were confident that what we found was a planet," he said.

This is the first time that the TESS program has found a planet orbiting two stars, and the discovery was featured during the 235th meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Honolulu this week.

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A teenage intern at NASA discovered a new planet, one almost seven times the size of Earth, while reviewing research data last year, ABC News reports.
nasa, intern, planet, discovery, space
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2020-54-10
Friday, 10 January 2020 10:54 AM
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