Marshall Johnson ’11 (no relation to Paul Marshall Johnson Jr.) may have detected a planet orbiting the star WASP-33. Astronomy professor William Herbst told the Argus that Johnson’s findings, if valid, will mark the only instance of an undergraduate discovering a planet.
Traveling at half the speed of light, humans could reach the new planet (WASP-33b) so quickly that only 25 generations of astronauts would have to be born in transit. Maybe Johnson’s descendants will settle the solar system that their forefather helped to discover. Hopefully they will encounter interesting extraterrestrials such as Neytiri and Boss Nass.
Above: the Hubble Deep Field, one of the coolest photographs ever. Click to enlarge.
Astronomy 105 students: Good luck on your exam today. Don’t forget to use significant figures.