One of the mysterious stars ever observed by scientists also brought some crazy explanations for its unusual behavior. The star, called KIC 8462852, appeared to have some occasional dips in its brightness, and researchers first thought an alien megastructure was blocking its light. Now, studies revealed the matter surrounding it is rather transparent, resembling dust.
The star was obscured by something more massive than an exoplanet
The star is also nicknamed Tabby’s Star after the scientist who led most studies on it, Tabetha Boyajian. Most details on the star have been collected with the help of the Kepler Space Telescope. The tool is actually the perfect instrument to detect any small changes in the brightness of stars, as this is one of the best ways to spot new exoplanets.
However, researchers immediately knew the dips surrounding this star were not caused by an exoplanet. It remained overshadowed for an average period of 80 days, while exoplanets only rob them of their light for a few hours. Also, even the biggest planets reduce the brightness of a star by one percent. In our case, the brightness was cut down by one fifth.
The alien megastructure turned out to be just dust
This explains why the alien megastructure hypothesis came into being. However, the most interesting thing about this star is the fact that computers didn’t notice the dips at first. Then, a team of clever citizen scientists who overlooked the scanning process discovered the algorithms really missed some data.
Therefore, a group of scientists specialized in looking for alien signs joined the team. The SETI Institute looked for radio signals which could have been released by a potential alien megastructure, and found nothing. The observations continued, and the dips were found to be produced by a transparent material, and not an opaque one. Therefore, the source of blocking might have been dust, after all.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons