Is there a massive alien structure orbiting Tabby's Star ? Image Credit: NASA / Rick Guidice
A new study has cast doubt on the idea that astronomers have discovered a large alien structure in space.
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 to be something of an enigma.
Unlike most other planet-hosting stars which exhibit slight periodic dips when their planets pass in front of them, this one has been exhibiting extremely erratic dips indicative of a large, tightly packed assortment of matter in orbit around it.
The phenomenon gained particular fame when astronomer Jason Wright suggested that one possible explanation for it was the presence of a gigantic extraterrestrial structure in space.
Now though, a new study has cast serious doubt on this possibility and suggests instead that the star's peculiar dimming behavior is actually down to a large cloud of dust particles orbiting around it.
It turns out that the dimming is a lot more pronounced in ultraviolet light than it is in infrared light, something that should not happen if a large object is responsible.
"This pretty much rules out the alien megastructure theory, as that could not explain the wavelength-dependent dimming," said lead author Huan Meng of the University of Arizona.
"We suspect, instead, there is a cloud of dust orbiting the star with a roughly 700-day orbital period."
Source: Scientific American | Comments (383)