High School Student Exoplanet Star Astronomy
High school students – 16-year-old Kartik Pinglé and 18-year-old Jasmine Wright – have discovered four new exoplanets about 200-light-years away from Earth. This multi-planetary system includes a rocky ‘super-earth’ and three ‘sub-Neptunes’ orbiting around a bright sun-like star. This rocky planet and the similarity of the host star (HD 108236) to our Sun, makes it perfect to study planetary evolution. Read more for a video and additional information.

NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) space telescope found these celestial bodies, as it was designed specifically to search for exoplanets. When compared to our solar system, the four planets orbit extremely close to their host star (3.8 days, 6.2 days, 14.2 days, and 19.6 days respectively), while in comparison, our solar system’s innermost planet, Mercury, takes 88 days while Neptune takes 165 years to complete one orbit around the sun.

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As a researcher, I really enjoy interacting with young brains that are open to experimentation and learning and have minimal bias. I also think it is very beneficial to high school students, since they get exposure to cutting-edge research and this prepares them quickly for a research career,” said Tansu Daylan, a postdoc at the MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research.