Wolf Cukier
Wolf Cukier. Image credit - Twitter

Wolf Cukier, a 17-year-old schoolboy from Scarsdale in New York, has discovered a planet on the third day of his internship.

Cukier recently completed his junior high school and headed to intern at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Informing about the discovery, the NASA on its Twitter handle said: “Our @NASAExoplanets mission @NASA_TESS has found its first planet with two suns ????, located 1,300 light-years away in the constellation Pictor. A @NASAGoddard intern examined TESS data, first flagged by citizen scientists, to make this discovery: https://go.nasa.gov/2ZZVtSJ

The NASA on its website – www.nasa.gov said: “In 2019, when Wolf Cukier finished his junior year at Scarsdale High School in New York, he joined NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, as a summer intern.”

“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,” Cukier said.

“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.

His job was to examine variations in star brightness captured by NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) and uploaded to the Planet Hunters TESS citizen science project.

NASA said TOI 1338 b, as it is now called, is TESS’s first circumbinary planet, a world orbiting two stars.

“The discovery was featured in a panel discussion on Monday, Jan. 6, at the 235th American Astronomical Society meeting in Honolulu,” it said.

“A paper, which Cukier co-authored along with scientists from Goddard, San Diego State University, the University of Chicago and other institutions, has been submitted to a scientific journal,” it added.

The TOI 1338 system lies 1,300 light-years away in the constellation Pictor.

“The two stars orbit each other every 15 days. One is about 10% more massive than our Sun, while the other is cooler, dimmer and only one-third the Sun’s mass,” NASA further said.

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