TOI 1338 b is about 6.9 times larger than Earth, which means that it is between the size of Saturn and Neptune. TOI 1338 b "transits" - when a planet moves in front of its star from the Earth's perspective - vary between 93 and 95 days because of the way the stars orbit. One is 10 almost 10 percent bigger than Earth's Sun and the other is only one-third the Sun's mass.
Last summer, Wolf Cukier, had just completed his junior year at Scarsdale High School in NY when he joined NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt Maryland for a summer internship. The stars themselves orbit each other every 15 days, causing TOI 1338-b to experience regular stellar eclipses.
NASA announced earlier this week that for the first time, it had discovered a new planet with a circumbinary orbit - in other words, a planet that circles two suns. "It turned out to be a planet", he said in a NASA statement.
The TESS mission began searching for planets in the summer of 2018, and has now discovered its first circumbinary planet, a world orbiting two stars. In an interview with ABC News, Cukier, now a senior in high school, confirmed he is looking for more planets.
Circumbinaries are hard to detect, and scientists have now confirmed about two dozen, with the first discovered in 1993.
His job was to examine variations in star brightness captured by NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) and uploaded to the Planet Hunters TESS citizen science project.
In 2019, Wolf Cukier joined NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, as a summer intern.
Proxima Centauri, which is the closest star to planet Earth, is approximately four light years away.
"TESS was designed and launched specifically to find Earth-sized planets orbiting nearby stars", said Paul Hertz, NASA astrophysics division director.
But the student spotted something unusual while examining TESS' star data.
A little robot on wheels could help find life on an ice-covered Jupiter moon, and it's being put through its paces in Antarctica by Australian scientists. But when he noticed the timing was off, he realized there may have been a planet involved. Since its inception, it has discovered multiple planets. One of the suns must first decrease in brightness, known as a transit event, so the planet isn't completely obscured.