Scientists spot 6 alien worlds orbiting a star in strange — but precise — harmony

The planets around a star called TOI-178 know how to keep a beat — so smoothly, in fact, that scientists were able to discover new alien worlds by deciphering the system’s music.

Astronomers poring through data from NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) discovered three planets around a star dubbed TOI-178 (TOI stands for TESS Object of Interest). And when scientists looked at these observations more closely, they realized that the worlds seemed to be keeping time against each other. So they recruited some more instruments — and discovered the system hosts at least six planets, five of which tick off orbits in rhythm with the others. And unlike those of other synchronized systems, the planets are an unusually mixed bag.

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