New York: While millions of interns are slogging away in their offices, a 17-year-old high school boy from New York stunned everyone and created history of sorts, when he discovered a new planet just 3 days into an internship with NASA.
Last July, just after he finished his junior year at Scarsdale High School in Scarsdale, Wolf Cukier started an internship at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre in Greenbelt, Maryland.
As an intern, his job at NASA was to look at star brightness variations that had been recorded by the space program’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), which aims to find planets outside the Earth’s solar system. And as luck would favour it, about three days into his internship, Cukier noticed a signal from a system named TOI 1338.
”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. 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”, Cukier explained.
According to NASA, TOI 1338 b is 6.9 times larger than Earth and is located about 1,300 light-years away from Earth.
After the discovery, Wolf then went on to co-author a journal along with the other scientists from different US universities. The work eventually went on to be featured at a panel at the 235th American Astronomical Society meeting in Honolulu, this week.
Wolf now awaits to finish his last year at high school and looks forward to studying physics or astrophysics at either Stanford University, MIT University or Princeton University in the state.