- A 17-year-old intern at NASA discovered a new planet on his third day on the job.
- Wolf Cukier, then a junior in high school, was interning at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland when he made the discovery.
- The planet, since named TOI 1338 b, is the first circumbinary planet to ever have been found at the agency. This means the planet orbits two stars instead of one.
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Seventeen-year-old Wolf Cukier was on the third day of his internship at NASA when he discovered a new planet previously unknown to scientists.
According to NASA, the planet is the agency’s first discovery of a “circuminary planet” — meaning it orbits two stars instead of one.
The planet — which has been named TOI 1338 b — is almost seven times bigger than Earth, and is located 1,300 light years away in a constellation called Pictor.
Cukier joined NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, as a summer intern after finishing his junior year at Scarsdale High School in New York State.
He had been on a project searching for planets orbiting two stars, and tasked with examining the brightness and dimming through a NASA satellite telescope, a sign that could be an indication of a new planet, he told NBC New York.
“About three days into my internship, I saw a signal from a system called TOI 1338,” Cukier said in a statement published by NASA.
“At first I thought it was a stellar eclipse, but the timing was wrong. It turned out to be a planet.”
Cukier, a Star Wars fan, said the way stars appear on TOI 1338 b would be similar to Luke Skywalker’s home of Tatooine, according to the BBC.
“It would also have a double sunset,” he said.
Cukier is now back at high school, but told the BBC he hopes to go to college to study physics and astrophysics.
“From there, a career in space research is appealing,” he said.