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15-Year-old science intern discovers new planet

Just because you’re young doesn’t mean you can’t leave a mark — or make a scientific discovery.

Hopefully this story will encourage young adults to reach for the stars when it comes to dreams and hard work.

You never know your possibilities.

Tom Wagg probably didn’t expect to make such a noteworthy finding at 15 years old. Interning at Keele University for work experience, he stumbled across a new planet more than 1,000 light-years away. Tom was able to spot it using the solar planet detection program WASP, which picks up planets passing in front of their host star. According to the data, the planet is the same size as Jupiter and has been cataloged as WASP-142b.

“I’m hugely excited to have a found a new planet, and I’m very impressed that we can find them so far away,” said Tom.

Professors at Keele University praise Tom’s efforts and his dedication to science. “Tom is keen to learn about science, so it was easy to train him to look for planets,” said Professor Coel Hellier. Now 17 years old, Tom has plans to attend college and study physics. As for his planet, the International Astronomical Union is hosting a contest to determine the name. While Tom did put in a suggestion, one would think the person who discovered the planet would have first dibs on naming it.

This is truly an amazing story, as most of us couldn’t dream of such a discovery at a young age. While others in the science world have found planets, Tom is without a doubt one of the youngest to ever do so. Discovering a planet the size of Jupiter — which happens to be the largest in our solar system — that orbits its star in a couple days is pretty incredible. To put things in perspective, NASA estimates that Jupiter takes 12 years to orbit the sun.

I can only hope more teens and children will take advantage of these educational opportunities. There’s so much potential to learn and make history before you become an adult. While I personally am not a huge science fan, heaven knows the amount of experience I could’ve added to my résumé if there were programs like this back in my day.

The next generation has the opportunity to leave their footprint both here on Earth and our solar system.

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