By Rishi Iyengar
June 12, 2015

Internships are important. They provide you with a glimpse into the real world, valuable work experience and, if you’re lucky, eventual employment. And if you’re really, really lucky — and eagle-eyed, like Tom Wagg — you get the credit for discovering a planet previously unknown to astronomy.

Wagg came across the planet at Keele University in the U.K., when he spent a week there as part of a “work experience” stint that high school students can opt for.

While analyzing data from the university’s Wide Angle Search for Planets (WASP) computer program, the then 15-year-old intern noticed a dip in the light of a distant star (1,000 light-years away), indicating an orbiting planet passing in front of it.

It took two years of further observation to verify that his finding was really a planet. “I’m hugely excited to have found a new planet, and I’m very impressed that we can find them so far away,” said Wagg, now 17, on Thursday.

For now, the new planet — which is about the size of Jupiter — is called WASP-142b, as it is the 142nd planet to have been discovered by the WASP system, but Wagg is reportedly looking forward to sending in his suggestion for a name when the time comes.

Write to Rishi Iyengar at


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