MAY 21, 2017 07:13 AM PDT

Supposed "Alien Megastructure System" is Doing Weird Things Again

About two years ago, astronomers noticed that an abnormal amount of light was being blocked from a star system dubbed KIC-8462852, which is located over 1,277 light years away from Earth.

The first and most absurd explanations to surface on the internet at the time was that some kind of giant alien megastructure was orbiting the star, but astronomers have since been observing the system on and off since the discovery to come up with a natural explanation.

The light blockage going on at KIC-8462852 is nothing short of a mystery, but astronomers hope to discover something new this time around.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-CalTech

While not much is known about everything going on in this system, we do know at up to 20% of its light ends up getting blocked out every so often like clockwork by a myriad of individual objects floating around the star; many of which would have to be incredibly massive to block this sheer volume of light.

The temporary ‘dimming’ effect that was first observed back in 2015 is starting to happen once again after a long lull period. Astronomers are doing everything in their power to learn more about the root cause of these curious circumstances by collecting as much data as possible from numerous angles.

Related: This distant exoplanet was kicked out of its own system

Not only are high-profile astronomers tuning into the system, but word about this strange system has circled around enough that even amateur astronomers are trying to figure out what’s going on; observatories around the world are watching as the light continues to dim.

Since a 20% light blockage is an atypical occurrence, all cards are currently on the table. For comparison, a Jupiter-sized world getting in between our telescopes and the star would only block about 1% of its light, so something way out of our realm of understanding could be going on here to block 20 times that much light.

Interestingly, the patterns are not typical for orbiting planets, so astronomers are considering other possibilities. It could be a massive field of comets or asteroids, but even these kinds of objects aren’t known to get big enough to block up to 20% of a star’s light.

By viewing the system with different wavelengths, we might have a better chance at determining what’s causing this phenomenon. Certain objects are invisible at certain wavelengths, and by broadening our spectrum, astronomers may be able to determine what type of material is blocking the light, which in turn could help us explain what’s circling the star.

At this point in time, your guess is as good as anyone else’s. Astronomers have limited periods of time to observe the star during these dimming episodes, which severely limits their discoveries. They were lucky to discover the system as it was in the middle of a dimming period, which means all eyes are currently on the system while it behaves erratically.

While it won’t be a quick process to decipher the data that gets collected, it ought to be interesting to find out if anything new gets discovered this time around. 

Source: Engadget

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
AUG 06, 2018
Space & Astronomy
AUG 06, 2018
NASA's TESS Spacecraft Spies a Comet
NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) officially began scientific operations at the end of last month, a move that will help the space...
AUG 07, 2018
Space & Astronomy
AUG 07, 2018
Why Does the James Webb Space Telescope Keep Getting Delayed?
The James Webb Space Telescope is set to become NASA’s latest and greatest space-based observatory, superseding the Hubble Space Telescope as the big...
OCT 15, 2018
Space & Astronomy
OCT 15, 2018
NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory is Back Up and Running
NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory was recently kicked into safe mode following a mysterious anomaly. Spacecraft engineers have been working around the...
OCT 22, 2018
Space & Astronomy
OCT 22, 2018
What Are Those Strange Objects Orbiting Sagittarius A*?
Sagittarius A* is a black hole that resides at the center of the Milky Way. Astronomers estimate that Sagittarius A* sports the same amount of mass as four...
NOV 05, 2018
Space & Astronomy
NOV 05, 2018
The Mystery Behind Oumuamua Continues...
Last year, Oumuamua became the first-known interstellar object to be identified by astronomers as it passed through our solar system. At first, astronomers...
NOV 11, 2018
Space & Astronomy
NOV 11, 2018
Rocket Lab Successfully Sends Electron Rocket on its First Commercial Flight
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket quickly became of the most prominent means of commercial and private satellite launches, but sending such a massive rocket t...
Loading Comments...