17-year-old high school student discovers new planet on 3rd day of NASA internship

by Bryan Brammer · Jan 11th, 2020 2:12 pm

Just three days into an internship with NASA over the summer, a 17-year-old high-schooler from New York discovered a new planet that is 6.9 times larger than Earth.

Scarsdale High School student Wolf Cukier was tasked with examining variations in star brightness captured by a NASA satellite when he caught a glimpse of what he assumed was a stellar eclipse. After further investigation, it was determined that Cukier actually located a new planet.

According to NASA, the new planet, now named "TOI 1338 b," is 1,300 light-years away. NASA also stated that planets similar to what Cukier discovered are extremely difficult to detect due to the limitations of current software to distinguish them from an ordinary eclipse.

Cukier, who is a huge fan of the "Star Wars" films, compared his discovery to one of the fictional desert planets found in the series:

"I discovered a planet. It has two stars which it orbits around. So, if you think to Luke's homeworld, Tatooine, from ‘Star Wars,' it's like that. Every sunset, there's gonna be two stars setting."

The high school senior is looking to attend Princeton, MIT or Stanford after graduation.


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