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The Teenager Who Found a Planet

Sep 18,2015 by Edulab

Yes, you read that right, but we’ll say it again so it sinks in: today we’re talking about a teenager who found a planet. Quickly becoming the envy of scientists, who have been hunting down new planets since William Hershel first discovered Uranus (which, unlike Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, can’t be seen by the naked eye) and, we assume, the envy of his friends, we had to take a deeper look at this inspirational story.

The teenager in question is called Tom Wagg, and he was only 15 years old when he made his impressive discovery. It all happened at Keele University back in 2013, where Tom was on work experience – and it made him potentially the youngest person ever to discover a new planet.

So if it happened so long ago, why has it only hit the news this year? Well, as you can probably imagine, scientists have a pretty rigorous procedure to follow to ensure that the new planets they find are legitimate – sorry, you can’t just point at a vague patch of sky and shout “got one”!

This means that it’s taken them a substantial time to confirm his discovery, but now they have we can share all the details. The planet has been given the name WASP-142b, which simply refers to its place within a catalogue of other planets, but Tom hopes that he’ll be able to change all that in the future, with dreams of both pursuing a career in physics and giving his planet an official name – dreams which he will be well placed to realise.

Tom spotted the planet as it passed by a star around 1000 light years away, causing the star’s light to be dimmed for a brief amount of time. WASP-142b is around the size of our more local planet, Jupiter, and is classed as a ‘hot Jupiter’ planet, meaning that its orbit is unusually tight, bringing it close to the stars which surround it.

We’re constantly finding ourselves blown away by the innovation and scientific knowledge of the upcoming generation, and achievements such as Tom’s give us a lot of hope that the pursuit of information, whether in the field of space exploration or any other sector, will continue to be pushed forwards for decades to come.

At Edulab, we’re also proud of the role which we play in this quest, supplying the high quality scientific laboratory supplies that can help you with your next scientific endeavour. For more information please feel free to get in touch at any time; you can reach us online, or call 01366 385777 to speak to the team.