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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

Updated 24 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus may have been in U.S. in December 2019, study finds — Hospital crisis deepens as holiday season nears.
  2. Politics: Bipartisan group of senators unveil $908 billion COVID stimulus proposalFDA chief was called to West Wing to explain why agency hasn't moved faster on vaccine — The words that actually persuade people on the pandemic
  3. Vaccine: Moderna to file for FDA emergency use authorizationVaccinating rural America won't be easy — Being last in the vaccine queue is young people's next big COVID test.
  4. States: Cuomo orders emergency hospital protocols as New York's COVID capacity dwindles.
  5. World: European regulators to assess first COVID-19 vaccine by Dec. 29
  6. 🎧 Podcast: The state of play of the top vaccines.

Bipartisan group of senators unveils $908 billion COVID stimulus proposal

Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) in the Capitol in 2018. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

A bipartisan group of senators on Tuesday proposed a $908 billion coronavirus stimulus package, in one of the few concrete steps toward COVID relief made by Congress in several months.

Why it matters: Recent data shows that the economic recovery is floundering as coronavirus cases surge and hospitals threaten to be overwhelmed heading into what is likely to be a grim winter.

Inside Patch's new local newsletter platform

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Patch, the hyperlocal (and profitable) local digital news company, has built a new software platform called "Patch Labs" that lets local news reporters publish their own newsletters and websites, sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: It follows a growing trend of journalists going solo via newsletters at the national level.