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15-year-old boy discovers new planet 1000 light-years away

By Marilyn Malara
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15-year-old boy discovers new planet 1000 light-years away
Artist's rendition of WASP-142b from a hypothetical moon. Photo by David A. Hardy

STAFFORDSHIRE, England, June 12 (UPI) -- Tom Wagg just became a university's star intern as a new planet he discovered two years ago has been confirmed.

Two years ago, the now 17-year-old student was working as an intern for Keele University in the U.K. when, using unique software called WASP (Wide Angle Search for Planets), he discovered an anomaly around a star. Looking further, he believed it to be a planet.

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Now, after further investigation by the University of Geneva and the University of Liege, Wagg's discovery has been dubbed an official planet and is temporarily named WASP-142b, since it is the 142nd discovery using the software.

"I'm hugely excited to have a found a new planet, and I'm very impressed that we can find them so far away," Wagg said in a statement from the university. "The WASP software was impressive, enabling me to search through hundreds of different stars, looking for ones that have a planet."

WASP-142b is invisible to the naked eye at over 1000 light-years away, but it orbits a star within our galaxy -- making it an exoplanet-- and is thought to be about the size of Jupiter.

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The currently unnamed planet will be entered into a naming competition hosted by the International Astronomical Union. Wagg says he's excited to submit a name for it, but didn't disclose what he'd like to call it.

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