A 17-year-old NASA intern just discovered a brand new planet

Katie Ramirez
January 11, 2020

A new planet 6.9 times larger than Earth was recently discovered by none other than a NY teen who has not even graduated high school, but did have the opportunity to intern at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in summer 2019.

The intern, Wolf Cukier, on closer examination found that it was indeed a circumbinary planet, which is one that orbits two stars.

Data published by NASA revealed the planet, which is believed to be the sole planetary body in the TOI 1338 solar system, orbits its stars every 95 days.

The planet, now known as TOI 1338 b, is almost seven times larger than Earth and has two stars - one that's about 10 per cent more massive than our sun, and another only a third of the sun's mass and less bright, according to NASA. Cukier's contribution of examining the star data and the passes of the planet in front of both stars was key to identifying it. The planet is around 6.9 times larger than Earth - almost the size of Saturn - and lies in a system 1,300 light-years away in the constellation of Pictor. The other, which only has about one-third of the Sun's mass, is described as being cooler and dimmer.

A satellite from the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has discovered a planet slightly larger than Earth and lying within the habitable zone that extends from its nearest star.

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NASA TESS has found a unique planet. Cukier's discovery came in June, but it was only brought to light this week by NASA at the 235th American Astronomical Society meeting in Honolulu.

Wolf found the planet on the third day of her interning at NASA, a space agency. TESS could only spot the transit of the planet passing in front of the larger star. It has two stars which it orbits around. It's between the sizes of Neptune and Saturn and experiences regular eclipses from its stars.

The process was actually much faster than normal, taking about two to three months to confirm Cukier's discovery as a planet, Kostov said. The last feature shows that the planet may contain liquid water. This allows TESS to infer the presence of a planet, its size and orbit. The discovery marks the first circumbinary planet discover for TESS.

The TOI 700 star measures 40% of the Sun and is nearly half as hot. The new planet called "TOI 700 d" is only 100 light years away from Earth.

The name is an allusion to the fairy tale "Goldilocks and the Three Bears", in which a young girl samples three bowls of porridge and finds that one is "just right - not too hot and not too cold".

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