(CNN)NASA’s planet-hunting satellite TESS has discovered more than 20 exoplanets during its first year of observations, including some “missing link” planets entirely unlike anything in our own solar system.

Weird and wonderful planets beyond our solar systemWeird and wonderful planets beyond our solar system Photos: Weird and wonderful planets beyond our solar systemAn artist's impression of a circumplanetary disk around PDS 70 c, a gas giant exoplanet in a star system 370 light-years away.An artist's impression of a circumplanetary disk around PDS 70 c, a gas giant exoplanet in a star system 370 light-years away. Photos: Weird and wonderful planets beyond our solar systemAn artist’s impression of a circumplanetary disk around PDS 70 c, a gas giant exoplanet in a star system 370 light-years away.Hide Caption 1 of 37This artist's illustration shows two gas giant exoplanets orbiting the young star PDS 70. These planets are still growing by gathering material from a surrounding disk. In the process, they have gravitationally carved out a large gap in the disk.This artist's illustration shows two gas giant exoplanets orbiting the young star PDS 70. These planets are still growing by gathering material from a surrounding disk. In the process, they have gravitationally carved out a large gap in the disk. Photos: Weird and wonderful planets beyond our solar systemThis artist’s illustration shows two gas giant exoplanets orbiting the young star PDS 70. These planets are still growing by gathering material from a surrounding disk. In the process, they have gravitationally carved out a large gap in the disk.Hide Caption 2 of 37This is an artist's illustration of  NGTS-4b, also known to astronomers as "The Forbidden Planet." It whips around its star every 1.3 days and still maintains a gaseous atmosphere in the Neptunian Desert, where no Neptune-sized planets are found.This is an artist's illustration of  NGTS-4b, also known to astronomers as "The Forbidden Planet." It whips around its star every 1.3 days and still maintains a gaseous atmosphere in the Neptunian Desert, where no Neptune-sized planets are found. Photos: Weird and wonderful planets beyond our solar systemThis is an artist’s illustration of NGTS-4b, also known to astronomers as “The Forbidden Planet.” It whips around its star every 1.3 days and still maintains a gaseous atmosphere in the Neptunian Desert, where no Neptune-sized planets are found.Hide Caption 3 of 37An artist's illustration of HD 21749c, the first Earth-size planet found by TESS, as well as its sibling, HD 21749b, a warm mini-Neptune.An artist's illustration of HD 21749c, the first Earth-size planet found by TESS, as well as its sibling, HD 21749b, a warm mini-Neptune. Photos: Weird and wonderful planets beyond our solar systemAn artist’s illustration of HD 21749c, the first Earth-size planet found by TESS, as well as its sibling, HD 21749b, a warm mini-Neptune.Hide Caption 4 of 37A "hot Saturn" passes in front of its host star in this illustration. Astronomers who study stars used "starquakes" to characterize the star, which provided critical information about the planet.A "hot Saturn" passes in front of its host star in this illustration. Astronomers who study stars used "starquakes" to characterize the star, which provided critical information about the planet. Photos: Weird and wonderful planets beyond our solar systemA “hot Saturn” passes in front of its host star in this illustration. Astronomers who study stars used “starquakes” to characterize the star, which provided critical information about the planet.Hide Caption 5 of 37Artist's concept of TESS against background of stars & orbiting planets in the Milky Way. Credit: ESA, M. Kornmesser (ESO), Aaron E. Lepsch (ADNET Systems Inc.), Britt Griswold (Maslow Media Group), NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center & Cornell UniversityArtist's concept of TESS against background of stars & orbiting planets in the Milky Way. Credit: ESA, M. Kornmesser (ESO), Aaron E. Lepsch (ADNET Systems Inc.), Britt Griswold (Maslow Media Group), NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center & Cornell University Photos: Weird and wonderful planets beyond our solar systemArtist’s concept of TESS against background of stars & orbiting planets in the Milky Way. Credit: ESA, M. Kornmesser (ESO), Aaron E. Lepsch (ADNET Systems Inc.), Britt Griswold (Maslow Media Group), NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center & Cornell UniversityHide Caption 6 of 37A super-telescope made the first direct observation of an exoplanet using optical interferometry. This method revealed a complex exoplanetary atmosphere with clouds of iron and silicates swirling in a planet-wide storm. The technique presents unique possibilities for characterizing many of the exoplanets known today.A super-telescope made the first direct observation of an exoplanet using optical interferometry. This method revealed a complex exoplanetary atmosphere with clouds of iron and silicates swirling in a planet-wide storm. The technique presents unique possibilities for characterizing many of the exoplanets known today. Photos: Weird and wonderful planets beyond our solar systemA super-telescope made the first direct observation of an exoplanet using optical interferometry. This method revealed a complex exoplanetary atmosphere with clouds of iron and silicates swirling in a planet-wide storm. The technique presents unique possibilities for characterizing many of the exoplanets known today.Hide Caption 7 of 37This image shows an artist's impression of the surface of Barnard's star b, a cold Super-Earth discovered orbiting Barnard's star 6 light-years away.This image shows an artist's impression of the surface of Barnard's star b, a cold Super-Earth discovered orbiting Barnard's star 6 light-years away. Photos: Weird and wonderful planets beyond our solar systemThis image shows an artist’s impression of the surface of Barnard’s star b, a cold Super-Earth discovered orbiting Barnard’s star 6 light-years away.Hide Caption 8 of 37This artist's illustration shows newly discovered exoplanet K2-288Bb, 226 light-years away and half the size of Neptune. It orbits the fainter member of a pair of cool M-type stars every 31.3 days. This artist's illustration shows newly discovered exoplanet K2-288Bb, 226 light-years away and half the size of Neptune. It orbits the fainter member of a pair of cool M-type stars every 31.3 days. Photos: Weird and wonderful planets beyond our solar systemThis artist’s illustration shows newly discovered exoplanet K2-288Bb, 226 light-years away and half the size of Neptune. It orbits the fainter member of a pair of cool M-type stars every 31.3 days. Hide Caption 9 of 37This is an artist's impression of the exoplanet HAT-P-11b. The planet has an extended helium atmosphere that's being blown away by the star, an orange dwarf star smaller but more active than our sun.This is an artist's impression of the exoplanet HAT-P-11b. The planet has an extended helium atmosphere that's being blown away by the star, an orange dwarf star smaller but more active than our sun. Photos: Weird and wonderful planets beyond our solar systemThis is an artist’s impression of the exoplanet HAT-P-11b. The planet has an extended helium atmosphere that’s being blown away by the star, an orange dwarf star smaller but more active than our sun.Hide Caption 10 of 37An artist's illustration of what the super-Earth found around the orange-hued star HD 26965 (also known as 40 Eridani A) might look like. The recently discovered exoplanet is being compared to the fictional planet of Vulcan because Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry said the star was the ideal candidate to host Vulcan, Mr. Spock's home world.An artist's illustration of what the super-Earth found around the orange-hued star HD 26965 (also known as 40 Eridani A) might look like. The recently discovered exoplanet is being compared to the fictional planet of Vulcan because Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry said the star was the ideal candidate to host Vulcan, Mr. Spock's home world. Photos: Weird and wonderful planets beyond our solar systemAn artist’s illustration of what the super-Earth found around the orange-hued star HD 26965 (also known as 40 Eridani A) might look like. The recently discovered exoplanet is being compared to the fictional planet of Vulcan because Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry said the star was the ideal candidate to host Vulcan, Mr. Spock’s home world.Hide Caption 11 of 37The TRAPPIST-1 star, an ultra-cool dwarf, has seven Earth-size planets orbiting it.The TRAPPIST-1 star, an ultra-cool dwarf, has seven Earth-size planets orbiting it. Photos: Weird and wonderful planets beyond our solar systemThe TRAPPIST-1 star, an ultra-cool dwarf, has seven Earth-size planets orbiting it.Hide Caption 12 of 37For the first time, eight planets have been found orbiting another star, tying with our solar system for the most known planets around a single star. The Kepler-90 system is in the constellation Draco, more than 2,500 light-years from Earth. For the first time, eight planets have been found orbiting another star, tying with our solar system for the most known planets around a single star. The Kepler-90 system is in the constellation Draco, more than 2,500 light-years from Earth. Photos: Weird and wonderful planets beyond our solar systemFor the first time, eight planets have been found orbiting another star, tying with our solar system for the most known planets around a single star. The Kepler-90 system is in the constellation Draco, more than 2,500 light-years from Earth. Hide Caption 13 of 37This artist's illustration shows exoplanet Ross 128 b, with its red dwarf host star in the background. The planet is only 11 light-years from our solar system. It is now the second-closest temperate planet to be detected, after Proxima b.This artist's illustration shows exoplanet Ross 128 b, with its red dwarf host star in the background. The planet is only 11 light-years from our solar system. It is now the second-closest temperate planet to be detected, after Proxima b. Photos: Weird and wonderful planets beyond our solar systemThis artist’s illustration shows exoplanet Ross 128 b, with its red dwarf host star in the background. The planet is only 11 light-years from our solar system. It is now the second-closest temperate planet to be detected, after Proxima b.Hide Caption 14 of 37WASP-121b, 880 light-years away, is considered a hot Jupiter-like planet. It has a greater mass and radius than Jupiter, making it "puffier." If WASP-121b were any closer to its host star, it would be ripped apart by the star's gravity. WASP-121b, 880 light-years away, is considered a hot Jupiter-like planet. It has a greater mass and radius than Jupiter, making it "puffier." If WASP-121b were any closer to its host star, it would be ripped apart by the star's gravity. Photos: Weird and wonderful planets beyond our solar systemWASP-121b, 880 light-years away, is considered a hot Jupiter-like planet. It has a greater mass and radius than Jupiter, making it “puffier.” If WASP-121b were any closer to its host star, it would be ripped apart by the star’s gravity. Hide Caption 15 of 37NASA's Kepler space telescope team has identified 219 more planet candidates, 10 of which are near-Earth size and in the habitable zone of their stars.NASA's Kepler space telescope team has identified 219 more planet candidates, 10 of which are near-Earth size and in the habitable zone of their stars. Photos: Weird and wonderful planets beyond our solar systemNASA’s Kepler space telescope team has identified 219 more planet candidates, 10 of which are near-Earth size and in the habitable zone of their stars.Hide Caption 16 of 37Welcome to the KELT-9 system. The host star is a hot, rapidly rotating A-type star that is about 2.5 times more massive and almost twice as hot as our sun. The hot star blasts its nearby planet KELT-9b with massive amounts of radiation, leading to a daylight temperature of 7800 degrees Fahrenheit, hotter that most stars and only 2000 degrees cooler than the sun.Welcome to the KELT-9 system. The host star is a hot, rapidly rotating A-type star that is about 2.5 times more massive and almost twice as hot as our sun. The hot star blasts its nearby planet KELT-9b with massive amounts of radiation, leading to a daylight temperature of 7800 degrees Fahrenheit, hotter that most stars and only 2000 degrees cooler than the sun. Photos: Weird and wonderful planets beyond our solar systemWelcome to the KELT-9 system. The host star is a hot, rapidly rotating A-type star that is about 2.5 times more massive and almost twice as hot as our sun. The hot star blasts its nearby planet KELT-9b with massive amounts of radiation, leading to a daylight temperature of 7800 degrees Fahrenheit, hotter that most stars and only 2000 degrees cooler than the sun.Hide Caption 17 of 37This artist's concept shows OGLE-2016-BLG-1195Lb, a planet orbiting an incredibly faint star 13,000 light-years away from us. It is an "iceball" planet with temperatures reaching minus-400 degrees Fahrenheit. This artist's concept shows OGLE-2016-BLG-1195Lb, a planet orbiting an incredibly faint star 13,000 light-years away from us. It is an "iceball" planet with temperatures reaching minus-400 degrees Fahrenheit. Photos: Weird and wonderful planets beyond our solar systemThis artist’s concept shows OGLE-2016-BLG-1195Lb, a planet orbiting an incredibly faint star 13,000 light-years away from us. It is an “iceball” planet with temperatures reaching minus-400 degrees Fahrenheit. Hide Caption 18 of 37LHS 1140b is located in the liquid water habitable zone surrounding its host star, a small, faint red star named LHS 1140. The planet weighs about 6.6 times the mass of Earth and is shown passing in front of LHS 1140. Depicted in blue is the atmosphere the planet may have retained.LHS 1140b is located in the liquid water habitable zone surrounding its host star, a small, faint red star named LHS 1140. The planet weighs about 6.6 times the mass of Earth and is shown passing in front of LHS 1140. Depicted in blue is the atmosphere the planet may have retained. Photos: Weird and wonderful planets beyond our solar systemLHS 1140b is located in the liquid water habitable zone surrounding its host star, a small, faint red star named LHS 1140. The planet weighs about 6.6 times the mass of Earth and is shown passing in front of LHS 1140. Depicted in blue is the atmosphere the planet may have retained.Hide Caption 19 of 37An artist's concept image of the surface of the exoplanet TRAPPIST-1f. Of the seven exoplanets discovered orbiting the ultracool dwarf star TRAPPIST-1, this one may be the most suitable for life. It is similar in size to Earth, is a little cooler than Earth's temperature and is in the habitable zone of the star, meaning liquid water (and even oceans) could be on the surface. The proximity of the star gives the sky a salmon hue, and the other planets are so close that they appear in the sky, much like our own moon.  An artist's concept image of the surface of the exoplanet TRAPPIST-1f. Of the seven exoplanets discovered orbiting the ultracool dwarf star TRAPPIST-1, this one may be the most suitable for life. It is similar in size to Earth, is a little cooler than Earth's temperature and is in the habitable zone of the star, meaning liquid water (and even oceans) could be on the surface. The proximity of the star gives the sky a salmon hue, and the other planets are so close that they appear in the sky, much like our own moon.  Photos: Weird and wonderful planets beyond our solar systemAn artist’s concept image of the surface of the exoplanet TRAPPIST-1f. Of the seven exoplanets discovered orbiting the ultracool dwarf star TRAPPIST-1, this one may be the most suitable for life. It is similar in size to Earth, is a little cooler than Earth’s temperature and is in the habitable zone of the star, meaning liquid water (and even oceans) could be on the surface. The proximity of the star gives the sky a salmon hue, and the other planets are so close that they appear in the sky, much like our own moon. Hide Caption 20 of 37Artist's conception of the binary system with three giant planets discovered, where one star hosts two planets and the other hosts the third. The system represents the smallest-separation binary in which both stars host planets that has ever been observed.Artist's conception of the binary system with three giant planets discovered, where one star hosts two planets and the other hosts the third. The system represents the smallest-separation binary in which both stars host planets that has ever been observed. Photos: Weird and wonderful planets beyond our solar systemArtist’s conception of the binary system with three giant planets discovered, where one star hosts two planets and the other hosts the third. The system represents the smallest-separation binary in which both stars host planets that has ever been observed.Hide Caption 21 of 37This artist's impression shows the planet Proxima b orbiting the red dwarf star Proxima Centauri, the closest star to our solar system. This artist's impression shows the planet Proxima b orbiting the red dwarf star Proxima Centauri, the closest star to our solar system. Photos: Weird and wonderful planets beyond our solar systemThis artist’s impression shows the planet Proxima b orbiting the red dwarf star Proxima Centauri, the closest star to our solar system. Hide Caption 22 of 37This artist's impression shows a view of the surface of the planet Proxima b.This artist's impression shows a view of the surface of the planet Proxima b. Photos: Weird and wonderful planets beyond our solar systemThis artist’s impression shows a view of the surface of the planet Proxima b.Hide Caption 23 of 37An artist's rendering shows Earth-sized exoplanets TRAPPIST-1b and 1c in a rare double transit event as they pass in front of their ultracool red dwarf star, which allowed Hubble to take a peek at at their atmospheres. An artist's rendering shows Earth-sized exoplanets TRAPPIST-1b and 1c in a rare double transit event as they pass in front of their ultracool red dwarf star, which allowed Hubble to take a peek at at their atmospheres. Photos: Weird and wonderful planets beyond our solar systemAn artist’s rendering shows Earth-sized exoplanets TRAPPIST-1b and 1c in a rare double transit event as they pass in front of their ultracool red dwarf star, which allowed Hubble to take a peek at at their atmospheres. Hide Caption 24 of 37Out of a new discovery of 104 exoplanets, astronomers found four similar in size to Earth that are orbiting a dwarf star. Two of them have the potential to support life. The craft depicted in this illustration is the NASA Kepler Space Telescope, which has helped confirm the existence of thousands of exoplanets. Out of a new discovery of 104 exoplanets, astronomers found four similar in size to Earth that are orbiting a dwarf star. Two of them have the potential to support life. The craft depicted in this illustration is the NASA Kepler Space Telescope, which has helped confirm the existence of thousands of exoplanets. Photos: Weird and wonderful planets beyond our solar systemOut of a new discovery of 104 exoplanets, astronomers found four similar in size to Earth that are orbiting a dwarf star. Two of them have the potential to support life. The craft depicted in this illustration is the NASA Kepler Space Telescope, which has helped confirm the existence of thousands of exoplanets. Hide Caption 25 of 37This artist's impression shows a view of the triple-star system HD 131399 from close to the giant planet orbiting in the system. Located about 320 light-years from Earth, the planet is about 16 million years old, making it also one of the youngest exoplanets discovered to date.This artist's impression shows a view of the triple-star system HD 131399 from close to the giant planet orbiting in the system. Located about 320 light-years from Earth, the planet is about 16 million years old, making it also one of the youngest exoplanets discovered to date. Photos: Weird and wonderful planets beyond our solar systemThis artist’s impression shows a view of the triple-star system HD 131399 from close to the giant planet orbiting in the system. Located about 320 light-years from Earth, the planet is about 16 million years old, making it also one of the youngest exoplanets discovered to date.Hide Caption 26 of 37An artistic impression of the planet Kepler-1647b, which is nearly identical to Jupiter in both size and mass. The planet is expected to be roughly similar in appearance. But it is much warmer: Kepler-1647b is in the habitable zone. An artistic impression of the planet Kepler-1647b, which is nearly identical to Jupiter in both size and mass. The planet is expected to be roughly similar in appearance. But it is much warmer: Kepler-1647b is in the habitable zone. Photos: Weird and wonderful planets beyond our solar systemAn artistic impression of the planet Kepler-1647b, which is nearly identical to Jupiter in both size and mass. The planet is expected to be roughly similar in appearance. But it is much warmer: Kepler-1647b is in the habitable zone. Hide Caption 27 of 37HD-106906b is a gaseous planet 11 times more massive than Jupiter. The planet is believed to have formed in the center of its solar system, before being sent flying out to the edges of the region by a violent gravitational event.  HD-106906b is a gaseous planet 11 times more massive than Jupiter. The planet is believed to have formed in the center of its solar system, before being sent flying out to the edges of the region by a violent gravitational event.  Photos: Weird and wonderful planets beyond our solar systemHD-106906b is a gaseous planet 11 times more massive than Jupiter. The planet is believed to have formed in the center of its solar system, before being sent flying out to the edges of the region by a violent gravitational event. Hide Caption 28 of 37Kepler-10b orbits at a distance more than 20 times closer to its star than Mercury is to our own sun. Daytime temperatures exceed 1,300 degrees Celsius (2,500 degrees Fahrenheit), which is hotter than lava flows on Earth. Kepler-10b orbits at a distance more than 20 times closer to its star than Mercury is to our own sun. Daytime temperatures exceed 1,300 degrees Celsius (2,500 degrees Fahrenheit), which is hotter than lava flows on Earth. Photos: Weird and wonderful planets beyond our solar systemKepler-10b orbits at a distance more than 20 times closer to its star than Mercury is to our own sun. Daytime temperatures exceed 1,300 degrees Celsius (2,500 degrees Fahrenheit), which is hotter than lava flows on Earth. Hide Caption 29 of 37This Jupiter-like planet in the HD-188753 system, 149 light-years from Earth, has three suns. The main star is similar in mass to our own Sun. The system has been compared to Luke Skywalker's home planet Tatooine in "Star Wars." This Jupiter-like planet in the HD-188753 system, 149 light-years from Earth, has three suns. The main star is similar in mass to our own Sun. The system has been compared to Luke Skywalker's home planet Tatooine in "Star Wars." Photos: Weird and wonderful planets beyond our solar systemThis Jupiter-like planet in the HD-188753 system, 149 light-years from Earth, has three suns. The main star is similar in mass to our own Sun. The system has been compared to Luke Skywalker’s home planet Tatooine in “Star Wars.” Hide Caption 30 of 37Kepler-421b is a Uranus-sized transiting exoplanet with the longest known year, as it circles its star once every 704 days. The planet orbits an orange, K-type star that is cooler and dimmer than our Sun and is located about 1,000 light-years from Earth in the constellation Lyra. Kepler-421b is a Uranus-sized transiting exoplanet with the longest known year, as it circles its star once every 704 days. The planet orbits an orange, K-type star that is cooler and dimmer than our Sun and is located about 1,000 light-years from Earth in the constellation Lyra. Photos: Weird and wonderful planets beyond our solar systemKepler-421b is a Uranus-sized transiting exoplanet with the longest known year, as it circles its star once every 704 days. The planet orbits an orange, K-type star that is cooler and dimmer than our Sun and is located about 1,000 light-years from Earth in the constellation Lyra. Hide Caption 31 of 37Astronomers discovered two planets less than three times the size of Earth orbiting sun-like stars in a crowded stellar cluster approximately 3,000 light-years from Earth in the constellation Cygnus.Astronomers discovered two planets less than three times the size of Earth orbiting sun-like stars in a crowded stellar cluster approximately 3,000 light-years from Earth in the constellation Cygnus. Photos: Weird and wonderful planets beyond our solar systemAstronomers discovered two planets less than three times the size of Earth orbiting sun-like stars in a crowded stellar cluster approximately 3,000 light-years from Earth in the constellation Cygnus.Hide Caption 32 of 37This artist's conception shows a hypothetical planet with two moons orbiting in the habitable zone of a red dwarf star. The majority of the sun's closest stellar neighbors are red dwarfs.This artist's conception shows a hypothetical planet with two moons orbiting in the habitable zone of a red dwarf star. The majority of the sun's closest stellar neighbors are red dwarfs. Photos: Weird and wonderful planets beyond our solar systemThis artist’s conception shows a hypothetical planet with two moons orbiting in the habitable zone of a red dwarf star. The majority of the sun’s closest stellar neighbors are red dwarfs.Hide Caption 33 of 37Kepler-186f was the first validated Earth-sized planet to be found orbiting a distant star in the habitable zone. This zone a range of distance from a star where liquid water might pool on the planet's surface.Kepler-186f was the first validated Earth-sized planet to be found orbiting a distant star in the habitable zone. This zone a range of distance from a star where liquid water might pool on the planet's surface. Photos: Weird and wonderful planets beyond our solar systemKepler-186f was the first validated Earth-sized planet to be found orbiting a distant star in the habitable zone. This zone a range of distance from a star where liquid water might pool on the planet’s surface.Hide Caption 34 of 37Kepler-69c is a super-Earth-size planet similar to Venus. The planet is found in the habitable zone of a star like our sun, approximately 2,700 light years from Earth in the constellation Cygnus.Kepler-69c is a super-Earth-size planet similar to Venus. The planet is found in the habitable zone of a star like our sun, approximately 2,700 light years from Earth in the constellation Cygnus. Photos: Weird and wonderful planets beyond our solar systemKepler-69c is a super-Earth-size planet similar to Venus. The planet is found in the habitable zone of a star like our sun, approximately 2,700 light years from Earth in the constellation Cygnus.Hide Caption 35 of 37The Kepler-444 system formed when the Milky Way was just 2 billion years old. The tightly packed system is home to five planets that range in size, the smallest is comparable to the size of Mercury and the largest to Venus, orbiting their sun in less than 10 days. The Kepler-444 system formed when the Milky Way was just 2 billion years old. The tightly packed system is home to five planets that range in size, the smallest is comparable to the size of Mercury and the largest to Venus, orbiting their sun in less than 10 days. Photos: Weird and wonderful planets beyond our solar systemThe Kepler-444 system formed when the Milky Way was just 2 billion years old. The tightly packed system is home to five planets that range in size, the smallest is comparable to the size of Mercury and the largest to Venus, orbiting their sun in less than 10 days. Hide Caption 36 of 37This artistic concept image compares Earth, left, with Kepler-452b, which is about 60% larger. Both planets orbit a G2-type star of about the same temperature; however, the star hosting Kepler-452b is 6 billion years old -- 1.5 billion years older than our sun.This artistic concept image compares Earth, left, with Kepler-452b, which is about 60% larger. Both planets orbit a G2-type star of about the same temperature; however, the star hosting Kepler-452b is 6 billion years old -- 1.5 billion years older than our sun. Photos: Weird and wonderful planets beyond our solar systemThis artistic concept image compares Earth, left, with Kepler-452b, which is about 60% larger. Both planets orbit a G2-type star of about the same temperature; however, the star hosting Kepler-452b is 6 billion years old — 1.5 billion years older than our sun.Hide Caption 37 of 3701 exoplanets gallery 071201 exoplanetsExoplanet NGTS-4b Forbidden Planetexoplanets 0415exoplanets gallery 032802 exoplanets gallery 0328exoplanets gallery 032702 barnard's starexoplanets gallery_K2-288Bbexoplanets galleryVulcan planetTRAPPIST-1 planetary system01 nasa kepler90dwarf planet ross PHOTO ILLUSTRATION RESTRICTED exoplanet WASP-121bKepler new planet candidatesexoplanets gallery KELT-9 systemexoplanets gallery OGLE01 exoplanets galleryexoplanet TRAPPIST-1fbinary system three giant planets04 new exoplanet 082401 new exoplanet 0824exoplanets gallery 0725Kepler K2 mission 100 new planetsthree planet star system 01 Kepler-1647bexpoplanets 1 hd106906bexoplanets 10 kepler 10bexoplanets 9 tatooineexoplanets 8 kepler 421 bexoplanets 7 cluster planetsexoplanets 6 red dwarf planetsexoplanets 3 kepler 186fexoplanets 5 kepler 69cexoplanets 3 kepler 444 systemexoplanets 2 kepler 452 bTESS, which stands for Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, began science operations in space in July 2018. TESS focused on the southern skies for the first year and will turn to the Northern Hemisphere for an ambitious observation campaign over the next year.A study published Monday in the journal Nature Astronomy highlights three new planets found by TESS that are ideal for follow-up observations campaigns during the search for habitable planets.And the new star system may harbor planets within the habitable zone, in which the temperature on a planet’s surface is just right to support liquid water and potentially life. The newly discovered exoplanets are some of the smallest and closest ever found. The three worlds, which include a rocky super-Earth and two sub-Neptunes, orbit a star just 73 light-years from Earth. Sub-Neptunes are smaller than the icy gas giant in our solar system. These two are about half the size of Neptune. Read MoreNASA's TESS mission spots Earth-size exoplanetNASA's TESS mission spots Earth-size exoplanetNASA's TESS mission spots Earth-size exoplanetThe star is an older M-dwarf called TOI-270, meaning it’s the 270th TESS object of interest identified.All three planets are similar in size, which is very different from our own solar system filled with extremes.TESS has discovered three new worlds that are among the smallestTESS has discovered three new worlds that are among the smallestTESS has discovered three new worlds that are among the smallestThe two intermediate sub-Neptunes aren’t much larger than the rocky planets in our solar system. They are like missing links in the understanding of planetary formation because they exist between small rocky planets and large gas giants. “TOI-270 will soon allow us to study this ‘missing link’ between rocky Earth-like planets and gas-dominant mini-Neptunes, because here all of these types formed in the same system,” said study author Maximilian Günther, Torres Postdoctoral Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.NASA mission finds new planet, most promising stars to support lifeNASA mission finds new planet, most promising stars to support lifeNASA mission finds new planet, most promising stars to support lifeThe rocky super-Earth is planet b, which closely orbits its star every three days. The sub-Neptunes, planets c and d, complete orbits of the star every five and 11 days, respectively.Normally, this kind of star would be active, sending out flares and enduring solar storms. But this older star is quiet, the astronomers said, and provides its planets with a steady brightness. It’s only about half as hot as our zoneThis allowed astronomers to learn more about the planets. It’s also encouraging because a quiet star means that if there are other planets in this system that are within the habitable zone, they could support life. Planet d is 10 million kilometers from the star. The habitable zone around the star could begin at 15 million kilometers, the researchers said. Planet d intrigued the researchers because the top of its atmosphere appeared to be temperate and possibly support life, but further study revealed that the rest of the atmosphere is probably very thick and dense, trapping heat to the point where the planet’s surface would be too hot to support life. NASA's planet-hunter TESS makes first discoveriesNASA's planet-hunter TESS makes first discoveriesNASA's planet-hunter TESS makes first discoveries“TOI-270 is a true Disneyland for exoplanet science, and one of the prime systems TESS was set out to discover,” Günther said. “It is an exceptional laboratory for not one, but many reasons — it really ticks all the boxes.”This discovery rounds out the first successful year of observations by TESS.”The pace and productivity of TESS in its first year of operations has far exceeded our most optimistic hopes for the mission,” said George Ricker of MIT, TESS’s principal investigator. “In addition to finding a diverse set of exoplanets, TESS has discovered a treasure trove of astrophysical phenomena, including thousands of violently variable stellar objects.”The objects that TESS finds can also be followed up for observation by future space telescopes, like the James Webb Space Telescope launching in the 2020s.

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