Tags: star | dimming | event

Star Dimming Event Resumes! Aliens Back From Vacation?

Image: Star Dimming Event Resumes! Aliens Back From Vacation?

Illustration of a star behind a shattered comet. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

By    |   Wednesday, 24 May 2017 07:11 AM

That star dimming event is happening again, driving astronomers bonkers to explain it, and with everything from a swarm of passing comets to an alien megastructure speculated as the cause, according to Space.com.

Star KIC 8462852 is also called the Boyajian's star or Tabby's star for astronomer Tabetha Boyajian, who led the team that first detected the star's strange fluctuations.

National Geographic said the star has baffled astronomers because its light has dimmed as much as 22 percent before returning to its usual brightness, a behavior not previously seen in other stars.

So when the Boyajian's star started to power down again last Friday, astronomers turned numerous telescopes on it to try to find some clue to the mystery, said Space.com.

Jason Wright, an associate professor of astronomy at Pennsylvania State University, was one of the first to sound an alert.

Boyajian, an assistant professor of physics and astronomy, at Louisiana State University, also urged astronomers to take a peek.

"The only known stars that show such flux dips are very young, with protoplanetary disks surrounding them," astrophysicist and author Ethan Siegel said in Forbes magazine. "Infrared and ultraviolet observations rule out a protoplanetary disk here; astronomers must consider other explanations."

Space.com theorized that a swarm of comets passing in front of the star could cause the dimming. Others have even guessed that the dimming could come from strong magnetic activity or a large structure built by aliens, but no proof of any of the theories have emerged.

"Whatever's causing the star to get dimmer will leave a spectral fingerprint behind," Wright said during a University of California, Berkeley webcast. "So if there is a lot of dust between us and the star … it will block more blue light than red light. If there is gas in that dust, that gas should absorb very specific wavelengths and we should be able to see that. And so, we've been eager to see one of these changes in one of these dips of the star so we can take some spectra."

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That star dimming event is happening again, driving astronomers bonkers to explain it, and with everything from a swarm of passing comets to an alien megastructure being speculated as the cause, according to Space.com.
star, dimming, event
389
2017-11-24
Wednesday, 24 May 2017 07:11 AM
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