OCT 15, 2015 11:11 AM PDT

Strange Flickering of Distant Star Baffling Scientists

Astronomers are incredibly interested in data accumulated by NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope as of late. Scientists have been watching the actions of distant stars in our galaxy, and while it’s normal for the light from stars to flicker occasionally as planets orbit them, one star in particular, dubbed KIC 8462852, is showing a lot more activity than the rest of them, and it’s baffling experts.
 

An artist's rendition of the Kepler Space Telescope.


Kepler has been watching this particular star since 2009, and the data accumulated shows very unusual flickering that made scientists think their space telescope equipment was malfunctioning, but after everything seemed to be working right, scientists took to other theories.
 
“We’d never seen anything like this star,” said Tabetha Boyajian, post doctorate at Yale. “It was really weird. We thought it might be bad data or movement on the spacecraft, but everything checked out.”
 
Since planets are known to cause repetitive flickering for stars as the planets rotate at the same relative speed and in the same relative pattern throughout their orbit, scientists understand that if flickering were being caused by a planet, that the light flickering would also show patterns that reflect on the repetitive planetary movements.
 
But the one star scientists are interested in isn’t showing patterns at all. Instead, it’s completely random. The flickering doesn’t appear to be very predictable, almost like something else is at work here.
 
There are some scientists who believe that there is a lot of floating dust surrounding the star that could be causing it, but this is something you would typically see in a younger star, and the particular star in question is somewhat of a mature star. Moreover, no infrared light is being emitted from the matter, which is typical for a star with dust and debris floating around it.
 
Among the 150,000 stars that scientists have studied with the Kepler Space Telescope, this is the only star known to have these strange out-of-tune flickering effects, and so you can imagine why it’s getting so much attention from experts that have some pretty serious, but out-of-this-world theories, including the possibility of aliens.
 
“When [Boyajian] showed me the data, I was fascinated by how crazy it looked,” Jason Wright, an astronomer from Penn State University said. “Aliens should always be the very last hypothesis you consider, but this looked like something you would expect an alien civilization to build.”



There is a possibility that it could be nothing more than coincidental swarm of comets, but scientists think it may be something more interesting. More research will be carried out over the next year, as experts work together to carry out more observations.  

Source: The Atlantic

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
OCT 19, 2019
Chemistry & Physics
OCT 19, 2019
Superionic Water--"Ice" Formed Under Extreme Heat and Pressure
Water solidifies into ice when the temperature drops below the freezing point, and turn into vapor gas at 100 Celsius. However, according to the latest fin...
OCT 19, 2019
Space & Astronomy
OCT 19, 2019
The Science Behind Designing Spacecraft for Other Worlds
When spaceflight engineers design highly specialized spacecraft for interplanetary missions, they’re doing some rather extraordinary things. The whol...
OCT 19, 2019
Space & Astronomy
OCT 19, 2019
Can We Prevent Phobos' Inevitable Demise?
Mars has two natural satellites: Deimos and Phobos; the latter orbits Mars closer than any other moon orbiting the other planets in the solar system, and i...
OCT 19, 2019
Chemistry & Physics
OCT 19, 2019
"Buckyball" Molecules Found in Deep Space
The intricacy of life's chemical components has been baffling scientists for a long time. How do simple molecules such as carbon dioxide and methane ge...
OCT 19, 2019
Space & Astronomy
OCT 19, 2019
This ISS-Based Experiment Could Benefit Parkinson's Disease Patients
Astronauts on the International Space Station do a whole lot more than spacewalk and glance out the window at the beautiful planet Earth. They also conduct...
OCT 19, 2019
Space & Astronomy
OCT 19, 2019
The Science Behind the First Powered Flight on Another Planet
NASA’s upcoming Mars 2020 mission involves much more than just another land-based rover – it will also pioneer the very first powered flight on...
Loading Comments...