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NASA / JPL-Caltech

The planets discovered are similar in size to Earth and are temperate, according to NASA astronomers who spoke at a press conference this afternoon. The exoplanets orbit a star called TRAPPIST-1, which is named after the telescope located in Chile used to find the seven planets. The star and the exoplanets are only about 40 light years or 235 trillion miles away from Earth.

Why this matters: These seven planets could potentially host life since they have equilibrium temperatures low enough to have liquid water on their surfaces. Three of them (TRAPPIST-1e, f, and g) are within the habitable zone of the star, and these three may even have oceans. This is the first opportunity to search for signs of biological life outside of the solar system, according to the NYT.

How did they find it? The results come from a photometric monitoring campaign of the star from the ground and space, according to the article on the study published today in Nature. The team noticed shadows interrupting the starlight, which ended up being these planets crossing over the telescope's view of the star

Next up: Finding gases to support life on these exoplanets will be key to upcoming research. The astronomers claim there is a good signal to noise ratio, which means studying the rocky planets' atmospheres will be feasible. The James Webb Telescope will launch next year, which will help with the research, along with the Hubble Space Telescope.

Top candidate: Although TRAPPIST-1f is a bit cooler than Earth, if it has the right atmosphere and enough greenhouse gases the researchers expect it to be the most likely candidate to support life, according to CNN's report. The star would appear three times as big as the sun in our sky on TRAPPIST-1f, and everything would likely be tinged with a salmon-colored light.

Go deeper

46 mins ago - Health

First known U.S. case of the Omicron variant identified in California

PhotoL Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The first known U.S. case of the Omicron variant was detected in California, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed Wednesday.

Driving the news: The confirmed case was detected in a traveler returning from South Africa who was fully vaccinated and has mild symptoms, according to the CDC.

Supreme Court appears likely to roll back abortion rights

Abortion rights advocates and anti-abortion protesters demonstrate in front of the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 1. Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Wednesday seemed likely to weaken abortion rights and perhaps to let states ban the procedure altogether.

The intrigue: The court seemed likely to throw out the framework established in Roe v. Wade, but it wasn't clear whether a majority of the justices were inclined to overturn the court's precedents entirely.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
Updated 2 hours ago - Economy & Business

How to meme a painting

Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios

How can a physical artwork become an NFT? One new company has just spent $12.9 million on a Banksy in an attempt to try out a new way of converting the real into the virtual.

Why it matters: The art market globally sees volume of about $60 billion per year, almost all of which is trade in physical objects. Art-world insiders including former Christie's c0-chair Loïc Gouzer are on the lookout for ways to monetize physical paintings without necessarily giving up physical ownership of them.