Teen NASA Intern Discovered New Planet

13 Janvier, 2020, 18:24 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • Exoplanet

Not only was he accepted as an intern at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center after his junior year, but he also managed to make a name for himself just three days into his NASA work by spotting a planet that nobody ever even knew existed.

Researchers working with data from NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) have discovered the mission's first circumbinary planet, a world orbiting two stars.

He continued, "At first I thought it was a stellar eclipse, but the timing was wrong".

It turned out that darkness was a planet 6.9 times larger than Earth that orbited two stars, what scientists call a circumbinary planet.

The system was flagged as an eclipse. The goal is to find new planets, and sure enough, on his third day, Cukier spotted a tiny darkness on a distant sun.

Circumbinary planets are hard to detect because they orbit two stars instead of one, like the Earth does. As per the space agency, one of the stars in the TOI 1338 system is about 10 per cent more massive than our Sun, while the other is cooler, dimmer and only one-third the Sun's mass.

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The planet, which has since been designated TOI 1338 b, is roughly the size of Saturn, according to NASA.

NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Sattelite (TESS) mission is credited with the discovery of several planets that lie far outside our own solar system. One of the suns must first decrease in brightness, known as a transit event, so the planet isn't completely obscured.

TOI 1338 b's discovery was featured in a Nasa panel discussion on Monday in Honolulu, Hawaii. Image: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Centre. However, TESS can only see the transits of planet 1338 b when it passes by the bigger star in the system, not the smaller star.

Cukier identified the planet, which prompted comparisons to Tatooine from the "Star Wars" films, as the planet has twin "sunsets" from its dual stars.

"When we corrected the star's parameters, the sizes of its planets dropped, and we realized the outermost one was about the size of Earth and in the habitable zone", said Emily Gilbert, a graduate student at the University of Chicago. It is about 20 percent larger than Earth.

The planet-hunting satellite recently made a fascinating discovery when it revealed that an ancient star experiences eclipses, which may have helped guide the ancient Egyptians during the construction of the pyramids.

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