Nasa intern helps to discover new planet in first week at organisation

Nasa intern helps to discover new planet in first week at organisation

A school student interning at Nasa helped to discover a planet with two stars, the agency has announced.

In 2019, Wolf Cukier joined Nasa’s Goddard Space Flight Centre in Maryland, US, as a summer intern, and helped to discover a planet now named TOI 1338 b on his third day at the agency.

He said: “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.

“About three days into my internship, I saw a signal from a system called TOI 1338. At first I thought it was a stellar eclipse, but the timing was wrong. It turned out to be a planet.”

Mr Cukier’s job was to examine variations in star brightness captured by Nasa’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) and upload them to TESS’s citizen science project.

The TESS mission began searching for planets in the summer of 2018, and has now discovered its first circumbinary planet, a world orbiting two stars.

The newly-discovered planet, TOI 1338 b, is around 6.9 times larger than Earth. One of its stars is about 10% larger than our Sun, while the other star is cooler, dimmer and only one-third the Sun’s mass.

The planet lies in a system 1,300 light years away from the Earth in the constellation Pictor.

TOI 1338 b’s discovery was featured in a Nasa panel discussion on Monday in Honolulu, Hawaii.

A paper, co-authored by Mr Cukier along with scientists from Goddard, San Diego State University, the University of Chicago and other institutions, has been submitted to a scientific journal.

More on this topic

Second planet could be orbiting neighbouring star just four light years awaySecond planet could be orbiting neighbouring star just four light years away

Astronomers find new class of ‘unusual objects’ near supermassive black holeAstronomers find new class of ‘unusual objects’ near supermassive black hole

Space missions set to observe violent cosmic eventsSpace missions set to observe violent cosmic events

Scientists believe meteors may be striking Earth more frequently than thoughtScientists believe meteors may be striking Earth more frequently than thought

More in this Section

Canadians open garage door on record-breaking snowfall as emergency calledCanadians open garage door on record-breaking snowfall as emergency called

6 things you can do to make January slightly more bearable6 things you can do to make January slightly more bearable

Yum Yum the ‘very fat’ sheep rescued after getting rammed in tight spotYum Yum the ‘very fat’ sheep rescued after getting rammed in tight spot

German Foreign Office apologises for immigration Twitter jokeGerman Foreign Office apologises for immigration Twitter joke


Lifestyle

The actor knows how to impress when it comes to high profile events.6 times Katie Holmes wowed on the red carpet

Glamour, fun and feathers all feature in this year’s hottest looks – but first and foremost, individual style rules.10 on-trend ways to transform your home in 2020

Abi Jackson shares the enduring appeal of Pooh Bear’s wisdom on Winnie-the-Pooh Day – author A.A. Milne’s birthday.Winnie-the-Pooh Day: The wellbeing lessons we can learn from Pooh Bear

We asked three experts for the low-down on shampooing frequency.How often should you really wash your hair?

More From The Irish Examiner