OCT 08, 2017 10:04 AM PDT

Has the Mystery Behind Tabby's Star Finally Been Solved?


KIC 8462852, also known as Tabby's Star, resides more than 1,200 light years away from Earth and baffles scientists every day. Astronomers typically observe starlight dips of around 1% when orbiting exoplanets transit their surface, but Tabby's Star becomes 15-22% dimmer from time to time, and astronomers can't seem to explain why.

There have been many theories, but no solid answers. One idea proposed that a high concentration of space rocks orbiting the star were behind the behavior, while another went on to suggest that a 'giant alien megastructure' was blocking the light.

Most science professionals probably laughed at the latter explanation more than they took it seriously, but new infrared and ultraviolet observations made with both space and ground-based telescopes may have ruled it out altogether.

In these observations, the ultraviolet light seemed to dip more an infrared light did, which wouldn't be possible if an alien megastructure were to blame. If it were, then scientists would expect to see similar dips in infrared light.

With the new data, astronomers now think a massive dust cloud could be behind the dimming effect, which happens every 700 days or so. Infrared light is notoriously useful for peering through dust, so this would explain why the dips can only be made out in ultraviolet light, and not infrared.

As it would seem, aliens aren't to blame for our misunderstandings of the vast universe. Nevertheless, the new findings don't solve the mystery entirely. There are still unexplained abnormalities in the starlight's brightness on a daily basis, and these have yet to be explained.

Perhaps future observations will unlock the secret...

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.
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