JAN 04, 2018 9:02 AM PST

An Alien Megastructure Isn't Causing the Dimming Effects of 'Tabby's Star'

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

A distant star system called KIC 8462852 continues to fascinate astronomers for seemingly all the wrong reasons. Also known as ‘Tabby’s Star,’ KIC 8462852 persistently exhibits unusual dimming characteristics every time astronomers point a telescope at it.

An artist's rendition of Tabby's Star.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Countless theories have attempted to make sense of what’s going on here, but each seems as unlikely as the next. One even suggested that an ancient alien megastructure was blocking the starlight, and it was this particular theory that made the star so famous on the internet.

Related: Ancient alien megastructure star is doing 'weird' things once again

With a little bit of common sense, we can probably kick the ancient alien megastructure theory right out the window. Nevertheless, finding out what’s causing this unexplained behavior has been a challenging endeavor to say the least.

Although astronomers have yet to explain the anomaly with 100% assuredness, they've probed KIC 8462852 yet again in search of answers. Their findings have been submitted to the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Astronomers studied KIC 8462852 at various wavelengths from March 2016 to December 2017 hoping to discern what might be blocking the light. They knew that different behavior at different wavelengths could provide clues regarding what was causing the light obstruction; and that it did.

Once the results were in, the astronomers noted dimming behavior at some wavelengths and not others. As it would seem, this was indicative of non-opaque material (such as space dust annd debris) blocking the star’s light.

"We were hoping that once we finally caught a dip happening in real time we could see if the dips were the same depth at all wavelengths. If they were nearly the same, this would suggest that the cause was something opaque, like an orbiting disk, planet or star, or even large structures in space," noted Jason Wright, a co-author of the paper.

Related: A new theory concerning the irregularities of Tabby's Star

"Dust is most likely the reason why the star's light appears to dim and brighten," added Tabetha Boyajian from Louisiana State University.

"The new data shows that different colors of light are being blocked at different intensities. Therefore, whatever is passing between us and the star is not opaque, as would be expected from a planet or alien megastructure."

Related: Have we finally solved the mystery behind Tabby's Star?

Not all astronomers agree with the space dust idea, but as the researchers point out, the results are consistent with alternative theories of an internal process causing KIC 8462852's dimming.

We still have a lot to learn about the circumstances surrounding Tabby’s Star, but each observation we make brings us one step closer to understanding it the peculiarities that set it apart from every other known star in our galaxy.

Source: Pennsylvania State University

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 28, 2019
Space & Astronomy
OCT 28, 2019
How Much Do You Know About NASA's Voyager Missions?
NASA’s Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft each launched in 1977 for a unique opportunity to explore the solar system’s outermost planets in unprecedent...
NOV 18, 2019
Space & Astronomy
NOV 18, 2019
Say Hello to the Largest Star Ever Discovered
There are so many stars in the modern universe that we couldn’t ever hope to count them all. Many are so distant from us that we can’t even see...
JAN 13, 2020
Space & Astronomy
JAN 13, 2020
Lunar Dust is Actually Quite Dangerous to Humans
Most people have a tendency to think that lunar dust isn’t any different than the dirt found here on Earth, but quite the opposite is true. In fact,...
JAN 14, 2020
Space & Astronomy
JAN 14, 2020
How Much Do You Know About Jupiter?
Jupiter, recognized by most as the largest known planet in our solar system, is a particularly interesting place. So interesting, in fact, that NASA sent a...
JAN 22, 2020
Space & Astronomy
JAN 22, 2020
Astronomers Have Found the Farthest Galaxy Group
An international team of astronomers funded in part by NASA has found the farthest galaxy group identified to date.  The trio of galaxies, called EGS7...
JAN 27, 2020
Space & Astronomy
JAN 27, 2020
How Dangerous is Radiation on Mars?
One of humankind’s most ambitious goals for the next decade is preparing to send astronauts to Mars for the very first time. Such a feat is projected...
Loading Comments...