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

At just 15 years old, Tom Wagg discovered what astronomers only began to find 20 years ago – a planet far from Earth, outside of our solar system.

Wagg is one of the youngest to ever detect a planet, according to a press release from Keele University in England where he was working when he made his epic discovery.

In fact, Wagg’s new planet closely resembles some of the very first exoplanets ever identified in the mid ’90s that looked completely different from anything astronomers had ever seen and actually spawned a complete revision of how we think planetary systems form today.

The newly-discovered planet falls into a class of exoplanets called hot Jupiter’s. These planets are large like Jupiter but, unlike Jupiter, they orbit extremely close to their host star – closer than Earth’s distance from the sun.

At such cosy distances, these exoplanets can reach blazing temperatures more than 1,000 degrees Celsius, hence the ‘hot’ in hot Jupiter.

Wagg’s exoplanet is located in a distant solar system within our home galaxy, the Milky Way, 1,000 light years from Earth. It’s about the same size as Jupiter, but only takes two days to orbit its star. Jupiter, by comparison, takes 12 Earth years, or 4,272 days to orbit the sun.

If you look at the constellation Hydra in the night sky, you’ll be looking in the general direction of the planet’s home.

It’s the hot Jupiters’ combination of size and proximity that makes these types of exoplanets relatively easy to spot with today’s powerful telescopes through a common detection technique. This technique, which Wagg used, works by examining the amount of light the exoplanet blocks when it passes between Earth and the host star.By graphing the amount of light Earth receives from the distant star, planet hunters will observe a dip – like in the example below – every time the star crosses over, or transits, the face of the star.