Third-Day Of Internship With NASA: 17-Year-Old Boy Discovers Planet 6.9 Times Larger Than Earth


Wolf Cukier, a junior at Scarsdale High School earned a two-month internship at NASA, so he spent two months during the summer of 2019 at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

The first assignment he had was to examine changes in the brightness of the stars that were taken by NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite or shorter TESS as a part of a project that allows people who aren’t employed by NASA to help with discovering unknown planets.

Wolf Cukier amazingly made his first discovery of a planet in only three days.

On their official website, NASA announced the news about the newly discovered planet which they decided to name “TOI 1338 b”. They also submitted a paper for Wolf Cukier as the co-author.

About all this, Cukier told NASA:

For NBC 4 New York, Wolf Cukier said:

This new planet that Wolf discovered is 6.9 times larger than the Earth and its distance from our planet is approximately 1,300 light-years in a constellation called Pictor. It is also the first planet found using the TESS system that orbits two stars and those two stars orbit around each other every fifteen days. One of those stars is around 10 percent larger than our Sun. The two stars and the new planet TOI 1338 b make up something called an “eclipsing binary”.

On News 12, Wolf Cukier did an interview and said:

Wolf is a big Star Wars fan and has framed a couple of posters in his bedroom and he also has a telescope.

Scientists from NASA say, planets like this, orbiting two stars are hard to discover because many times the software makes a mistake and they can be confused for eclipses. And that’s why NASA says that help from interns like Wolf is very important.

Scientists say that algorithms and computer software struggles when it comes to making a difference between signals and planets like this, but the human eye is a really good tool for finding these patterns and irregularities that happen in systems like these circumbinary planets.

After this discovery, Wolf Cukier told us in an interview that he is thinking about pursuing his future at MIT, Stanford or Princeton.



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