SCARSDALE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — An out-of-this-world discovery was recently made by a Westchester County teen.
It happened back in June, but remained under lock and key until this week, CBS2’s Jessica Layton reported Thursday.
Wolf Cukier is like any other 17-year-old boy. He loves Star Wars, he plays with his dogs, and, oh yeah, he just discovered a new planet.
The discovery happened on the third day of Wolf’s NASA internship at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. He was assigned to look through the TESS telescope and study how two stars would cross paths creating an eclipse.
That’s when he noticed something different was in their orbit.
“The planet blocked the light from those two stars, leading to a small dip in the amount of light that reached the telescope. That’s what I noticed at first,” Cukier said.
Cukier studied what’s now called TOI 1338 b a little bit longer before approaching his team.
“It was like, oh … there’s something here that was cool. But it’s also not like there’s a single moment of discovery,” Cukier said.
The planet lies 1,300 light years away from Earth. It’s almost seven times in size and it’s only the 13th planet of its kind to ever be discovered.
“There are PhD candidates who would die to have the type of opportunities that Wolf has lucked into in this internship. It was an amazing, cool bit of serendipity,” said Beth Cukier, Wolf’s mom.
Now with a pretty impressive resume under his belt, Wolf will finish his senior year at Scarsdale High School and look towards college. He plans to study physics or astrophysics at either Stanford, MIT or Princeton.
As for what he’ll do after he graduates, “NASA or other research could be a cool career for my future. Again, still deciding, but that’s a serious possibility,” Wolf said.
What a cosmic future.
Wolf’s mom later told CBS2 he was accepted at Princeton. That’s her and his husband’s alma mater, but Wolf has yet to make a decision.