Author Topic: "Tabby's Star" Continues to Baffle Scientists  (Read 81 times)


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"Tabby's Star" Continues to Baffle Scientists
« on: August 29, 2016, 10:19:36 AM »
There's been a rumor flying around the astronomy community that is, to me, slightly ridiculous. A star somewhere between 94 and 1500 light years away, the distance depends upon the source one consults, is dimming in an unusual way. It has been speculated, I think wildly, that the structure responsible for that dimming is inorganic and alien-made.

In my humble opinion, it is more likely dust and gas are obstructing the light from this star.

Nearly a year after first making headlines around the world, "Tabby's star" is still guarding its secrets.

In September 2015, a team led by Yale University astronomer Tabetha Boyajian announced that a star about 1,500 light-years from Earth called KIC 8462852 had dimmed oddly and dramatically several times over the past few years.

These dimming events, which were detected by NASA's planet-hunting Kepler space telescope, were far too substantial to be caused by an orbiting planet, scientists said. (In one case, 22 percent of the star's light was blocked. For comparison, when huge Jupiter crosses the sun's face, the result is a dimming of just 1 percent or so.) [13 Ways to Hunt Intelligent Alien Life]

Boyajian and her colleagues suggested that a cloud of fragmented comets or planetary building blocks might be responsible, but other researchers noted that the signal was also consistent with a possible "alien megastructure" perhaps a giant swarm of energy-collecting solar panels known as a Dyson sphere.

Astronomers around the world soon began studying Tabby's star with a variety of instruments, and reanalyzing old observations of the object, in an attempt to figure out what, exactly, is going on. But they have yet to solve the puzzle.

"I'd say we have no good explanation right now for what's going on with Tabby's star," Jason Wright, an astronomer at Pennsylvania State University, said earlier this month during a talk at the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute in Mountain View, California. "For now, it's still a mystery."

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