17-year-old discovers a planet on third day of NASA internship

Artist's impression of planet TOI 1338 b and its two stars

In the summer of 2019, Wolf Cukier had just finished his junior year at Scarsdale High School in NY when he landed a summer internship at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

A NY teen had the internship of a lifetime last summer when he discovered a new planet.

Cukier said of the discovery: "About three days into my internship, I saw a signal from a system called TOI 1338. It turned out to be a planet", he recalled.

It's orbiting not one, but two stars at the same time.

While the teen has been credited with the finding, Cukier told the New York Post that he didn't get to name the planet because "n$3 ew planets discovered by TESS get a TOI number if they don't have another significant name already".

The stars whirl around each other in orbit every 15 days, with one 10% more massive than our sun and the other is more diminuitive and cooler. The satellite can see the transit of the bigger star, which is 10% bigger than the Earth's Sun, but not the smaller, dimmer star, which is only about one-third of the Sun.

TOI 1338 b is the first circumbinary planet discovered by TESS, according to NASA.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) launched its planet-hunting mission called TransitingExoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) in 2018. TOI 700 d is one of three planets orbiting a star known as TOI 700. On Monday, their findings were presented at the 235th American Astronomical Society meeting in Honolulu. The first such discovery came in 1993.

TOI 1338 b is silhouetted by its host stars.

Cukier's internship took place over the summer at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

"I discovered a planet, which has two stars that orbit around".

The latest addition to TESS's list of planets just came recently thanks to the contribution of a high school student. But when he noticed the timing was off, he realized there may have been a planet involved. This allows TESS to infer the presence of a planet, its size and orbit. Scientists have named the planet as TOI 1338 b, where TOI stands for TESS Object of Interest. It orbits in a close plane to the stars, so it experiences frequent solar eclipses, according to NASA.

Being in a star's habitable area means that a planet has temperatures that could permit liquid water to exist on the surface.

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