Teenager Found a Planet - watsupptoday.com
Teenager Found a Planet
Posted 11 Jan 2020 05:53 PM

The summer before senior year of high school can be a stressful time for a teenager. Childhood is winding down. College applications loom large. Many students are looking for an edge that will help them get into the right school. Last year, Wolf Cukier, 17, spent his summer vacation as few other rising seniors have: He helped discover a planet.

Meet TOI 1338 b, the newly identified world orbiting two stars more than 1,300 light years away.

Last July, just after he finished his junior year at Scarsdale High School in Scarsdale, N.Y., Wolf started an internship at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. His job was to scrutinize data that had been beamed back from outer space by TESS, or the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite.

A unique aspect of the TESS project is that it invites regular people to volunteer to watch the online transmission for patterns in star brightness that might suggest the existence of a new planet, a sort of crowdsourcing of the universe. (Read more here about TESS and the scores of alien worlds it has found.)

During the first week of the internship, as he sifted through data that had been flagged by citizen-scientists, he zeroed in on a system that included two orbiting stars. He identified a body in that system that was later verified as a planet about 6.9 times as large as Earth. His colleagues gave the system a name, TOI 1338, an acronym for TESS Object of Interest, and then called the planet TOI 1338 b.

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