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Image: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Scott Wiessinger

Three newly discovered planets just 73 light-years from our own are helping scientists learn more about the diverse solar systems that populate our galaxy, according to a new study in the journal Nature Astronomy.

Key takeaway: The 3 worlds all reside in the TOI-270 star system, a solar system that is very different from our own.

  • Two of the planets — TOI 270c and TOI 270d — are about half the size of Neptune, and the other is slightly larger than Earth.
  • The “sub-Neptunes” represent a type of planet that doesn’t exist in our solar system.

The big picture: Scientists hope to study solar systems wildly different from our own in order to gain a better understanding of just how unique our solar system is in the grand scheme of things.

Details: The three newfound planets — found by NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) — orbit a star that is much smaller and dimmer than our Sun.

  • TOI 270b orbits the star every 3.4 Earth days and is just slightly larger than Earth, but it’s extremely hot at 490°F (254°C) on average.
  • TOI 270c is slightly farther from its star, with an almost 6-day orbit, and it is likely covered by a dense atmosphere.
  • The sub-Neptune that’s farthest from its star — TOI 270d — may have an upper atmosphere conducive to some forms of life, but below its clouds, the surface is probably uninhabitable, scientists say.

Go deeper: An orrery of TESS' planets

Go deeper

Mike Allen, author of AM
52 mins ago - Economy & Business

First look: Business puts muscle behind Biden

Business Roundtable, the voice of America's top CEOs, today launched "Move the Needle," a campaign to support President Biden in rolling out COVID vaccines, increasing vaccine uptake and encouraging masks.

What they're saying: "Masks and vaccines are working. Now is the time to keep at it, overcome pandemic fatigue, and double down on the measures that will end this public health and economic crisis, said Business Roundtable president and CEO Josh Bolten.

1 hour ago - World

U.S. notified Israel in advance about Syria strike

Photo: Abir Sultan/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

The Biden administration notified Israel in advance about the airstrike against an Iranian-backed Shiite militia base on the Syrian-Iraqi border Thursday evening, Israeli officials told me.

Why it matters: The airstrike was the first overt military action by the U.S. in the Middle East since Biden assumed office, and one that Israeli officials see as a positive signal about the new administration's posture toward Iran.

The sovereign state of Facebook vs. the world

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Facebook's 3 billion monthly active users, its mountain of money and its control over the flow of information all put the company on an equal footing with governments around the world — and, increasingly, it's getting into fights with them.

Why it matters: Facebook's power alarms governments fearful that the tech giant could tilt the political scales inside their borders, and regulators around the world are seeking ways to rein the company in.