YouTube/NBC New York
A 17-year-old intern at NASA discovered a new planet on his third day on the job.
Wolf Cukier, then a junior in high school, was interning at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland when he made the discovery.
The planet, since named TOI 1338 b, is the first circumbinary planet to ever have been found at the agency. This means the planet orbits two stars instead of one.
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Seventeen-year-old Wolf Cukier was on the third day of his internship at NASA when he discovered a new planet previously unknown to scientists.
According to NASA, the planet is the agency’s first discovery of a “circuminary planet” — meaning it orbits two stars instead of one.
The planet — which has been named TOI 1338 b — is almost seven times bigger than Earth, and is located 1,300 light years away in a constellation called Pictor.
Cukier joined NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, as a summer intern after finishing his junior year at Scarsdale High School in New York State.
He had been on a project searching for planets orbiting two stars, and tasked with examining the brightness and dimming through a NASA satellite telescope, a sign that could be an indication of a new planet, he told NBC New York.
“About three days into my internship, I saw a signal from a system called TOI 1338,” Cukier said in a statement published by NASA.
“At first I thought it was a stellar eclipse, but the timing was wrong. It turned out to be a planet.”
Cukier, a Star Wars fan, said the way stars appear on TOI 1338 b would be similar to Luke Skywalker’s home of Tatooine, according to the BBC.
“It would also have a double sunset,” he said.
Star Wars UK/YouTube
Cukier is now back at high school, but told the BBC he hopes to go to college to study physics and astrophysics.
“From there, a career in space research is appealing,” he said.
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