At 15 years old, in the middle of a one-week internship with Keele University in the United Kingdom, Tom Wagg discovered a new planet that was previously unknown in the field of astronomy. Wagg's discovery makes him the youngest person to ever discover a planet.
Wagg was just three days into what is likely the most amazing internship ever when he noticed something that others had missed. A shadow. A dip in the light that indicated what could be a new planet that had never before been identified. Two years and piles of data later and Wagg's discovery has been confirmed.
And seasoned astronomers are looking at Wagg — now 17 — with equal parts envy and wonder.
Wagg's internship was part of the university’s Wide Angle Search for Planets (WASP). While analyzing data from the WASP computer program, Wagg noticed a dip in the light of a distant star — about 1,000 light years away. Follow-up observations were conducted around the world to confirm Wagg's findings.
For the time being, the new planet has been given the catalog number WASP-142b because it is the 142nd planet to have been discovered via the WASP program. But when the time comes, Wagg reportedly hopes to submit his own suggestions for the new planet's name. WASP-142b is roughly the size of Jupiter and it orbits its star in about two days.
"It looks boring, but when you think about what you're actually doing it's amazing really," Wagg said in an interview with the BBC.
Wagg — a straight-A student — plans to study physics. But first he has to finish high school.
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