High school senior Dominick Rowan of Armonk, New York, is making discoveries about other worlds. Working with University of Texas at Austin astronomer Stefano Meschiari, Rowan has helped to find a Jupiter-like planet and has calculated that this type of planet is relatively rare, occurring in three percent of stars overall.
Their research is has been accepted for publication in the Astrophysical Journal.
The team, which also includes astronomers from the University of California, Santa Cruz and others, announced their newly discovered planet orbits a Sun-like star called HD 32963. They discovered the planet using observations with the Keck Telescope in Hawaii.
While working on this project, Rowan said that he became interested in how these large, Jupiter-like planets are so important to the formation of planetary systems.
“The story of our solar system is really the story of Jupiter,” Meschiari explained. “It’s important for us to find Jupiter analogs to find other solar systems like ours.”
Meschiari suggested to Rowan that he could undertake a project to calculate how often Jupiter-like planets form, using the sample of more than 1,000 stars that the team has probed with the Keck Telescope over the past two decades, looking for planets around them.
“It was a collaborative process,” Meschiari said. “We went through every dataset—every star—to look at how many Jupiters they have, or how many could have been missed.”
They used software previously created by Meschiari, called Systemic. An online version of it, called “Systemic Live,” is used in astronomy classes at colleges across the country. It…