Scarsdale High Student Discovers Planet At NASA

SCARSDALE, NY — What did you do during your high school internship? Discover a planet? That appears to be just what a senior from Scarsdale High School did while he was in his third day interning at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.

Wolf Cukier just finished his junior year and was interning at the space flight center, where he was charged with examining variations in star brightness captured by a satellite and uploaded to a citizen science project, according to NASA.

Cukier said he was looking through the data for everything volunteers flagged as a system where two stars circle around each other and eclipse each other every orbit.

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

The planet is now called TOI 1338b and it is the first circumbinary planet — or a world orbiting two stars — discovered by NASA’s TESS Satellite. The planet is about the size of Neptune and Saturn and orbits its two stars about every three months, NASA said. TESS is short for Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite.

The discovery was featured in a panel discussion Monday at the 235th American Astronomical Society meeting in Honolulu, Hawaii.

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