17-year-old NASA intern discovers aesthetic planet on his third day at work

A teenager from Scarsdale, New York discovered a planet on the third day of his internship with NASA. Imagine having that on your resume.

Wolf Cukier, 17, had just finished up his junior year of high school when he set off to be a summer intern at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. It only took him three days to discover a new planet.

Apparently, Cukier found the planet after noticed something blocking the light of two stars while examining a solar system light-years away from ours.

planet discovery (1)
Photo: NASA

“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,” he explained.

Much to his surprise, the planet – known as TOI 1338 B – lies “1,300 light-years away in the constellation Pictor. The two stars orbit each other every 15 days. One is about 10% more massive than our Sun, while the other is cooler, dimmer and only one-third the Sun’s mass.”

Cukier says that it was his first time working with NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, a.k.a TESS.

According to NASA, TESS is expected to “observe hundreds of thousands of eclipsing binaries during its initial two-year mission, so many more of these circumbinary planets should be waiting for discovery.”