This could be the best explanation yet for that baffling ‘alien megastructure’ s…
This could be the best explanation yet for that baffling ‘alien megastructure’ star
For over a year now, scientists have been puzzling over the erratic light patterns coming from a star called KIC 8462852 – patterns so strange, we’ve never seen anything like it, and one astronomer even offered up the the possibility that an ‘alien megastructure’ has been messing with its emissions.
Now, after several hypotheses have failed to gain traction in the wider scientific community, there’s a new explanation on the table, and it points to the last remaining dregs of a devoured planet.
Researchers from Columbia University suggest that KIC 8462852 swallowed a planet at some point in its lifespan, and the flickering light pattern we see is caused by remnants of this planet or its moons occasionally blocking the star’s light.
This could explain both the sudden, intermittent dimming, and the more gradual decrease in the star’s light that was observed between 1890 and 1989.
As we reported back in 2015, when a planet orbits a star, the star’s brightness will periodically dip by around 1 percent, but KIC 8462852 – also known as Tabby’s Star – has been experiencing erratic dips of up to 22 percent.
This huge disparity immediately got scientists speculating that something very, very big had been swirling around it.
The Columbia team says that if KIC 8462852 really did absorb a planet, the released energy would cause a sudden increase in brightness, so what we’re seeing could just be KIC 8462852 returning to normal over time, with a few rocky leftovers for company.
The collision between planet and star might have happened some 10,000 years ago, the researchers estimate, but the recent dimming suggests KIC 8462852 may only now be digesting its meal.
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