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15-year-old discovered a new planet that's 1,000 light years from Earth

At the age of 15, Tom Wagg discovered what astronomers only initiated to find 20 years ago - a planet far from Earth, way outside of our solar system. Wagg is one of the youngest to ever identify a planet, according to a news release from Keele University in England where he was working when he made his impressive discovery. Actually, Wagg’s new planet narrowly look a lot like some of the very first exoplanets ever discovered in the mid ’90s that looked entirely different from anything astronomers had ever seen and essentially reproduced a comprehensive revision of how we think planetary systems form today. The newly-discovered planet lies into a category of exoplanets called hot Jupiter’s. These planets are huge like Jupiter but, unlike Jupiter, they orbit tremendously close to their parent star - nearer than Earth’s distance from the sun. At such incredibly close distances, these exoplanets can range intense temperatures more than 1,000 degrees Celsius, therefore the ‘hot’ in hot Jupiter. Here’s an idealistic outline of what Wagg’s planet, which has yet to be given a name, might look like:

Wagg’s exoplanet is situated in a quite far solar system within our home galaxy, the Milky Way, about 1,000 light years from Earth. It’s nearly the same size as Jupiter, but only takes two days to circle its star. Jupiter, by contrast, takes 12 Earth years, or 4,272 days to circle the sun. If you look at the constellation Hydra in the night sky, you’ll be looking in the common direction of the planet’s home. It’s the hot Jupiters’ mixture of size and proximity that makes these kinds of exoplanets comparatively easy to spot with today’s powerful telescopes through an ordinary detection method. This method, which Wagg used, works by inspecting the amount of light the exoplanet blocks when it moves between Earth and the host star. By graphing the sum of light Earth gets from the distant star, planet hunters will detect a dip - like in the example below - every time the star crosses over, or travels, the face of the star.

Even though this method is a common one for planet hunters, it’s not the most dependable because there are a number of other causes for a dip in light intensity, such as a gas cloud, a white dwarf, or a malfunction in the technology. That’s the reason why it took two years of follow-up readings to approve that Wagg’s planet was, actually, a real planet. Wagg is now 17 years old and has plans to soon go to college and study physics.

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