Alien megastructure theory turns to dust

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Alien megastructure theory turns to dust

And speculate astronomers did, considering mechanisms for the brightness variations that ranged from transiting planets to an "alien megastructure" encircling and harnessing power from the star.

The freaky light fluctuations from the star, which is 50 percent bigger than the sun, were first observed by citizen researchers in 2015 from data obtained by NASA's Kepler space telescope.

For the past two-plus years, astronomers have been trying to figure out what, exactly, is going on with Tabby's star.

It's also important to point out that, if the dimming was truly caused by an alien megastructure, the intermittent nature of the flickering would likely be on account of a partial Dyson sphere, or one under construction.

So, while varying opinions as to what is causing the peculiar dips have been proposed over the past few years, a team of astrophysicists has now published what it believes to be the most likely answer - and it is sad news for those hopeful of extraterrestrial life being the cause.

According to the new study [coauthored by Wright] published on Wednesday in Astrophysical Journal Letters, the dust is most likely causing the unusual brightening and dimming of the KIC 8462852.

The scientists closely observed the star through the Las Cumbres Observatory from March 2016 to December 2017. But most of all, they're mysterious. Maybe. Boyajian's challenge will be to market that investigation in a way that replicates the excitement of alien megastructures. Dips by themselves aren't necessarily weird - it's how Kepler looks for exoplanets crossing in front of stars - but one of the dips dimmed the star by 22 percent, far too much to be a planet.

"Tyler Ellis, the Ph.D. student who works with Boyajian at the Louisiana State University and studies the tabby's star along with others, commented on the diminishing light and said", Other natural explanations were raised and dismissed.

The goal was to observe more dips in brightness, as well as to probe the star's light output across the visible spectrum and in infrared, to see if different wavelengths were being blocked at different times.

KIC 8462852 is often nicknamed Tabby's star after Boyajian, who has led its observations through the roller coaster of the past couple years.

The team indeed found four episodes when the star's light dipped, beginning in May 2017.

The new study was published online today (Jan. 3) in The Astrophysical Journal Letters. In 2010, a group of volunteer citizen scientists called "Planet Hunters" discovered the Tabby's Star after reviewing a data provided by Kepler.

"This latest research rules out alien megastructures, but it raises the probability of other phenomena being behind the dimming", study co-author Jason Wright, an astronomer at Pennsylvania State University, said in the same statement.

Motivated by the burgeoning mystery, teams of scientists combed through data spanning more than a century, looking for patterns that could reveal the source of the star's enigmatic dimming. This strongly suggests that it's some kind of huge dust cloud that keeps passing in front of the star, and not a planet or alien structure.

But the dips Kepler recorded from Tabby's star didn't correspond to anything remotely like a planet's shadowy fingerprint.

"We're gathering so much data on a single target". Astronomer Tabetha Boyajian and her team from Louisiana State University were combing through Kepler's data and found that the spacecraft had observed this star and recorded its odd behavior.

Not only that, but many observations were also conducted by amateur astronomers.

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