A 15-year-old boy, while undergoing work experience at the Keele University in England, UK, discovered a new planet 1,000 light years away, the university said.
Tom Wagg, now 17 and a student at Newcastle-under-Lyme School, noticed a tiny dip in the intensity of the light emanating from a star as a planet crossed it. This observation had not been noticed by anyone so far. The university said that Tom’s findings took two years to be confirmed.
According to a statement from the university, Tom said, “I’m hugely excited to have a found a new planet, and I’m very impressed that we can find them so far away.”
By examining the data gathered by Wide Angle Search for Planets (WASP) project – which looks for any dips in light intensities of stars when a planetary body crosses it – Tom was able to make the astronomical discovery.
Before this, the WASP project had resulted in discoveries of 141 planets. The newest one discovered by Tom, subsequently, has been given the catalog number ‘WASP-142b.’
Tom said, “It was just my third day when I spotted what looked a good candidate, but I had already gone through more than 1,000 sets of data by then.
“It looks boring, but when you think about what you’re actually doing it’s amazing really.”
Tom said his friends, who were completing different work experience placements, “have all been really excited for me,” as reported by BBC.
The planet is of almost the same size as that of Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system. Having a small orbit around its host star, it takes only two days to complete the orbit, according to CNN.
Tom’s discovery was verified by the astronomers and experts at the University of Geneva and the University of Liege, who said that the planet had the required size and mass to be considered as one.
According to The Independent, planets such as this one are believed to have migrated inwards by “interacting” with other planets. With this discovery, astronomers are optimistic about finding more planets orbiting the star.
The first exoplanet, as per NASA, was discovered in 1995. Since then, around 5,000 others have been discovered. Such findings may be crucial to finding another earth, the agency says on its website.
A competition is being conducted for a name. Tom said that he will put in a suggestion as well.
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