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Unbelievable 'alien megastructures' discovered around star

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10/15/2015 (3 years ago)

'It was kind of unbelievable that it was real data'

Distant star KIC 8462852 has left several scientists scratching their heads at its unusual flickering habit. Though evidence originally suggested the star was very old, new studies reveal it is not as old as initially believed. What first appeared to be asteroids surrounding the star have now been speculated to be megatructures built by aliens.

Long exposure image in Bulgarian sky over the remains of Elenska basilica (Nikolay Doychinov/AFP/Getty Images).

Long exposure image in Bulgarian sky over the remains of Elenska basilica (Nikolay Doychinov/AFP/Getty Images).

style="margin:0;padding:0;font-family: arial; font-size: 10pt; word-wrap: break-word;">LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - No, you didn't accidentally open a science fiction tabloid site. The details concerning KIC 8462852 has even surprised astronomers and scientists.

As The Atlantic reported, the star's unusual flickering is not the only strange phenomenon it displays. Every few years an unknown "something" caused KIC to dim drastically, and no one knows what.

Yale University astronomer Tabetha Boyajian said, "It was kind of unbelievable that it was real data. We were scratching our heads. For any idea that came up there was always something that would argue against it."

The Kepler Space Telescope collected light from the Cygnus and Lyra constellations for over four years and several people spotted KIC 8462852's erratic behavior. The light pattern it displayed was considered "bizarre" and "interesting" since no other stars have ever displayed similar habits.

Boyajian wrote a paper recently published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society on possible explanations for the star's odd behavior and sent fellow astronomer Jason Wright, a Penn State University researcher, to ask his opinion.

Wright, who helped develop a protocol for discovering signs of unearthly civilization, claims the star is exactly what he and his colleagues have been searching for. Boyajian listed several theories, including the presence of meteors, other stars, dust, movement on the spacecraft or even an error caused by the Kepler Space Telescope, but none were a good fit for the star's unusual behavior - which in Wright's mind left only one explanation: alien activity.

Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) researchers have suggested extraterrestrial civilizations could be detected by technological artifacts orbiting stars, and Wright agrees. He plans to publish an alternative interpretation of KIC 8462852's light patterns and claims it is consistent with a "swarm of megastructures."

Image drawing (NASA).

Wright told The Atlantic, "When [Boyajian] showed me the data, I was fascinated by how crazy it looked. Aliens should always be the very last hypothesis you consider, but this looked like something you would expect an alien civilization to build."

Physicist Freeman Dyson hypothesized a megastructure called the Dyson Sphere, which is meant to orbit or encompass a star to capture and utilize its power. Scientists theorize the megastructure could be a form of the Dyson Sphere, but until further investigations are conducted, every theory is just that: a theory.

To be clear, Boyajian and Wright believe alien megatstructures existing around KIC 8462852 is extreme remote but is worthy of hypothesis. "[W]e should also approach it skeptically," Write added.

In her paper, Boyajian and her colleagues reviewed and refuted explanations for the star's behavior and explained that in certain instances, young stars that are still on the process of accumulating mass can sometimes be surrounded by orbiting dust, rock and gas which can blur or block starlight -but KIC 8462852 is not young enough for that explanation to fully explain its dimming and flickering.

Though Boyajia has only turned to known explanations for the star's behavior, she admitted she was open to suggestions of unusual theories proposed by people such as Wright, with his "swarm of megastructures."

SETI director Andrew Siemion has joined forces with Boyajian and Wright in an attempt to access massive radio dishes to point at the star in hopes of discovering any radio waves that could possibly be emitted by technological sources. Though the team finds it unlikely, the lack of answers has led them to believe an investigation is prudent.

As the Washington Post pointed out, KIC 8462852 is roughly 1,481 light-years from Earth, which means any alien technology surrounding the star was created during the 6th century. Much has happened on Earth since then, which has left the door to possibilities wide open for KIC 8462852.


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