Teenager Discovers New Exoplanet Outside Our Solar System

Tom Wagg became one of the youngest individuals to have detected a planet in our universe: 2 years ago, at only 15 years of age, he was able to identify one outside of our solar system, according to a press release from Keele University in the UK.

tom wagg

A sketch of what Wagg’s planet looks like; Tom Wagg in the right hand corner. Photo credits (of the drawing of the planet): David A. Hardy.

The newly-discovered planet is part of a category of exoplanets known as hot Jupiters; they are huge like Jupiter. On the other hand, their orbit is in close proximity to their star. In fact, they are much closer to their ‘sun’ than our own planet is to our sun. Consequently, these exoplanets reach extremely high temperatures: more than 1,000 degrees Celcius.

Wagg’s exoplanet is situated in a far-away solar system within the Milky Way, at 1,000 light years away from the Earth. It is similar in size to Jupiter. Spectacularly, it moves around its star in only two days, because of its relatively small orbit. Compare this to Jupiter which takes 12 Earth years to orbit the sun.

The exoplanets in question are considerably easy to identify because of their enormous size and their close proximity. Wagg used a technique of examining the quantity of light blocked by the planet when it passes between our own planet and its star to spot it.

He used the Wide Angle Search for Planets (WASP) project to spot the planet. WASP provides a combination of telescopes to identify heavenly bodies.

“The WASP software was impressive, enabling me to search through hundreds of different stars, looking for ones that have a planet,” Wagg said in the Keene University press release.

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