Recent developments in the star known as ‘KIC 8462852’ and its bizarre behaviour since its discovery have prompted me to write about it and maybe spread the word of the existence of a possible alien megastructure!
So, to bring you up to speed, the star known as “KIC 8462852″ is a star located in our galaxy at a distance of about 1300 lightyears away. It was one of the many many stars that the Kepler Mission observed as part of its find for Exoplanets in our galaxy. Interestingly, it was found by a group of citizen scientists from a group known as Planet Hunters who voluntarily help in analysing data from the Kepler mission rather than the actual computer that was programmed to automatically do so.
So, the Kepler Spacecraft discovers exoplanets by observing stars over a certain period of time and looking for planetary transits in front of the star. When an exoplanet passes between the star and our Line of Sight with the star, it causes a dim in the brightness of the star. The time taken for the object to travel across the star is documented and along with the corresponding dim in brightness, it can allow researchers to estimate the size of the object travelling in front of the star.
Now, the uncanny thing about KIC 8462852 are the dimming events that happened in the following 2 dates: 5th March, 2011-A decrease in brightness of about 15% and 28th February, 2013- A decrease in brightness of about 22%. Ready to get your mind blown?
Well, a planet the size of Jupiter, would bring about only a dim in brightness of just 1% !
What’s more, the fact that these events happened within an interval of 750 days, means this was an unprecedented event in the group of F-type stars such as KIC 8462852. The dimming in brightness when seen on a graph plot over time, shows that the dimming was not only non-periodic but also asymmetrical. What this means is that, the object that crossed the star at that time was not spherical and truly gigantic! No other stars in the immediate vicinity have been observed with the same characteristics.
The gravity of this discovery led to a prompt appeal to the researchers for more telescope time for this star. However, Kepler experienced malfunctioning at the time and further observations of this star were not possible. However, the star is currently being observed by multiple observatories in the Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network.
So, what could be the cause of such unique observations? The data has been verified by multiple observations from ground observatories and previous data from the Kepler Mission has also been verified to be true. There are multiple theories that could describe these observations such as the passing of comets across the direct line of sight, asteroids, or destruction of a planet near the star, but none of these theories can explain these observations accurately and completely. The most exciting and incredulous of these theories is that the star itself has been covered by a highly efficient energy absorbing structure called a “Dyson Sphere” by an advanced extraterrestrial race!
A recent development in this bizarre series of events is that the star experienced another notable dip in brightness on the 21st of May last week! A lot of interest in this star has prompted a lot of planned observations over the next few days from observatories and astronomers across the world.
Since this event is still pretty unexplained, we definitely will discover some new physical phenomenon to explain this behaviour; or, we may just have found evidence of extraterrestrial beings. Either way, its a win-win situation. 😉
Hope this was fun! Until next time!
References and further reading:
- Lead Researcher Tabetha Boyajian’s TED talk on this mysterious star: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gypAjPp6eps
- Nasa Page on the Kepler Mission https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/kepler/overview/index.html
- News about mystery star KIC 8462852, Deborah Byrd : http://earthsky.org/space/news-about-mystery-star-kic-8462852