Tags: alien megastructure | star | tabby | erratic

Alien Megastructure? Star's Flickering Light Puzzles Scientists

Image: Alien Megastructure? Star's Flickering Light Puzzles Scientists

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By    |   Tuesday, 09 Aug 2016 09:36 AM

The star identified as KIC 8462852, also known as Tabby’s star, has astronomers speculating about an alien megastructure after it was observed flickering erratically.

Caltech astronomer Ben Montet and Joshua Simon of the Carnegie Institute examined images of the star collected by the Kepler Space Telescope and discovered occasional 20 percent dips of the star's light output along with a continual diminishment over four years, Gizmodo reported.

Gizmodo called the star's overall, 3 percent fade "an absolutely enormous, inexplicable amount."

"The part that really surprised me was just how rapid and non-linear it was," Montet told Gizmodo. "We spent a long time trying to convince ourselves this wasn’t real. We just weren’t able to."

The findings were built on those of Bradley Schaefer of Louisiana State University, who first claimed that the star faded 19 percent during the past century.

Speculations about the star's erratic dimming have included the notion that it might be the site of a vast alien construction project, specifically a Dyson sphere. Others have speculated that it is beset by a swarm of comets, may be a distorted shape, or be made up of remnants of a shattered planet, Gizmodo said.

"It seems that every time someone looks at the star, it gets weirder and weirder," Montet said, according to New Scientist.

New Scientist described the light fluctuations as "three types of dimming: the deep dips that first made it famous, the relatively slow decline observed by Schaefer and verified by Montet and Simon, and the intermediate rapid decline that occurred over a few hundred days."

Simon said astronomers are seeking to exhaust all possible natural explanations for the fluctuations before settling on alien technology.

"Once you’re invoking arbitrary advanced aliens doing something with technology far beyond ours, then there isn’t very much that can’t be explained," he said. "But we don’t really want to resort to that until we exhaust all of the possible natural explanations we can think of."

Tabetha Boyajian of Yale University originally discovered the star and has raised $100,000 in a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign to study it.

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The star identified as KIC 8462852, also known as Tabby’s star, has astronomers speculating about an alien megastructure after it was observed flickering erratically.
alien megastructure, star, tabby, erratic
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2016-36-09
Tuesday, 09 Aug 2016 09:36 AM
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