What could be responsible for the dimming ? Image Credit: NASA / Rick Guidice
Astronomers have identified a second star that exhibits the same peculiar dimming behavior as Tabby's Star.
Discovered by astronomer Roberto Saito of the Federal University of Santa Catarina, Brazil and colleagues, the star has been named VVV-WIT-07 with 'WIT' standing for 'what is this?'
What makes the star particularly unusual is its unorthodox pattern of dimming which seems consistent with that of Tabby's Star, albeit with a greater level of dimming (80% as oppose to 20% for Tabby's).
The phenomenon gained prominence back in 2016 when astronomer Jason Wright suggested that one possible explanation for it was the presence of a giant extraterrestrial structure in space.
"We don't know what the object is," said Saito. "And that's interesting."
As things stand however, the most likely explanation is that there is a large cloud of dust particles orbiting the star as oppose to a single large object like a planet (or a giant alien structure).
"If this phenomenon is the same as what's happening with Tabby's star, then we can't invoke an elaborate explanation for what's happening in both systems," said astronomer Tabetha Boyajian.
"If you're starting to see stars similar to this all over the place, then it's got to be a really common thing that happens in nature. That's really cool."
Source: Sciencenews.org | Comments (15)