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'Alien megastructure' star is still a mystery

Posted on Monday, 8 August, 2016 | Comment icon 288 comments

Is there an alien structure around KIC 8462852 ? Image Credit: NASA / Rick Guidice
Astronomers are no closer to explaining the erratic behavior of this perplexing stellar phenomenon.
Originally picked up between the constellations Cygnus and Lyra by the Kepler Space Telescope in 2009, the star known as KIC 8462852 has long proven something of an enigma to astronomers.

Unlike most other planet-hosting stars which exhibit slight periodic dips when their planets pass in front of them, this one seemed to be exhibiting extremely erratic dips indicative of a large, tightly packed assortment of matter in orbit around it.

In a recent study, astronomers Ben Montet and Joshua Simon scoured through all of the data recorded by the Kepler telescope to find traces of this particular star for comparison and analysis.

They determined that the star's dimming seemed to occur at 0.34% per year to begin with, yet inexplicably fell to 2.5% for 200 days before returning to its original dimming rate.

The pair even tried analyzing hundreds of other similar and nearby stars to look for the same type of behavior but were unable to find anything else like it at all.

So what could possibly be responsible for these peculiar observations ?

Some scientists have put forward the theory that a vast cloud of dust or comets may be gradually falling towards the star, however others have pointed out that such a cloud should have shown up on infra-red scans and no evidence of anything like this has ever been found.

More 'out there' theories have included the possibility that the phenomenon is the result of a large artificial structure in orbit around the star - an alien megastructure such as a Dyson Sphere.

SETI (Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence ) has even attempted to look for evidence of artificial laser light within the star's vicinity but so far their efforts have come up empty.

As it stands, KIC 8462852's peculiar dimming continues to remain a total mystery.

"We spent a long time trying to convince ourselves this wasn’t real," said Montet.

"We just weren’t able to."

Source: | Comments (288)

Tags: Star, Megastructure

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #279 Posted by psyche101 on 10 August, 2016, 4:12
Entirely possible too, I used to bullseye womp rats in my T-16 back home.
Comment icon #280 Posted by JesseCuster on 10 August, 2016, 17:59
What are you actually talking about?  Who said anything about bones or ships as having anything to do with the phenomenon surrounding this star?
Comment icon #281 Posted by Aftermath on 6 April, 2017, 16:51
UPDATE... The linked article provides a potential explanation for the bizarre behavior of  KIC 8462852 or commonly known as “Tabby’s star”. "The latest explanation — put forward by Columbia University’s Brian Metzger and Nicholas Stone, and UC Berkeley’s Ken Shen — involves a planetary body. According to the authors of the study, this body fell into the star sometime between 10 and 10,000 years ago, causing it to brighten dramatically." "According to the researchers, the star is acting the way it is because it devoured an entire planet sometime in its past, and is only now returning to its nat... [More]
Comment icon #282 Posted by omni9 on 8 April, 2017, 9:10
It seems to me that all this speculation about this dimming of this star is based on little understanding of our own star . We can not fully explain the line spectrum of the sun. Many people miss this conundrum of understanding our sun.   What I'm suggesting here is that , we can't FULLY explain what our own sun in our solar system is producing . Let alone understanding a far distant sun .   Alien intelligence doings is perhaps the cause , but until we can FULLY explain our own sun , we a... [More]
Comment icon #283 Posted by Frank Merton on 8 April, 2017, 9:25
This is of course true, but the behavior of "Tabby's Star" is bizarre, while the sun behaves like most stars.  I think the explanation lies in the idea that Tabby's Star recently ate a good size planet.  There are problems with this approach, but it does well explain the century-long dimming and debris might explain the rest.
Comment icon #284 Posted by omni9 on 8 April, 2017, 9:52
This is based on gravity . However it could be , that if a planet is envolved , that the planet is actually , being pushed Out of the star in order to balance its self .  Just saying .
Comment icon #285 Posted by Frank Merton on 8 April, 2017, 10:14
That's not my understanding at all.  If some fairly good time ago (several hundred or thousand years) a planet fell into the star, this would cause the star to brighten, and it would then gradually dim back to near its original brightness.  This deals with the century-long dimming noted from old photos.  The odd stuff orbiting would then be seen as residue from the event (maybe part of a planet that fell into the star from the collision of two planets -- or something like that). It is interesting the extremes scientific theorists will go to to avoid extraterrestrials, even though most think th... [More]
Comment icon #286 Posted by omni9 on 8 April, 2017, 10:41
To your first statement I think differently , obviously . The sun spitting out a planet , hence the dimming . Just my theory , nothing more . To your last statement ; extraterrestrials are out there and here really , another discussion .  Extraterrestrials would have the intellect to have the ability to do the Dyson theory , or any variance of . Or greater really. There is no reason to think otherwise . Material Science is young , for us . The ability for Extraterrestrials to travel enormous distances to my mind could be based on anti-gravity propulsion . Mainstream scientists will always be ,... [More]
Comment icon #287 Posted by Frank Merton on 8 April, 2017, 10:47
I have serious doubts that extraterrestrials are here, or even anywhere nearby, and see that as a "woo" topic, which I tend to avoid discussions with people about as I think discussions with people who believe in such things a waste of time. As far as a star spitting out a planet, that strikes me as contrary to everything I ever learned about stars or gravity or planets or whatever.  A star eating a planet makes more sense. However, I am not to the point where I would actively defend that theory.  It is too recent and I want some time to pass to see what objections are raised.
Comment icon #288 Posted by omni9 on 8 April, 2017, 10:49
Fair enough .

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