Midnight In The Desert — megastructures

The 'alien megastructure' star just set a new record by going really dark

Posted by K R on

The 'alien megastructure' star just set a new record by going really dark

Once again, a distant star know for its bizarre, unexplained light fluctuations has kicked into action, this time dipping in brightness more dramatically than ever. KIC 8462852, also known as Tabby's Star or 'alien megastructure' star as we like to call it, has dimmed by at least 5 percent - maybe even as much as 10 percent, breaking the record for the deepest dip since the data collected by Kepler in 2011. The dimming started on March 16, dropping down 4 percent, before returning to normal, according to an observation blog run by Tabetha Boyajian, the Louisiana State University astrophysicist...

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That flickering 'alien megastructure' star is probably just dusty

Posted by K R on

That flickering 'alien megastructure' star is probably just dusty

We'll admit that space dust is slightly less cool than an alien civilization. Three hundred and ninety parsecs away from Earth, a star dimmed in a weird way. Then it did it again. Astronomers wondered what the heck they were seeing, and speculation abounded, including the appealing possibility that it might be evidence of an alien megastructure. But now a closer look, published in Astrophysical Journal Letters and authored by over 200 researchers, finds that the star’s dimming is more likely dust than anything else. Large, solid objects (like a hypothetical alien megastructure) would have appeared opaque to our ground-based...

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How big would an 'alien megastructure' have to be?

Posted by K R on

How big would an 'alien megastructure' have to be?

A bizarre flicker of light from space led to the discovery of a still-mysterious star called KIC 8462852, otherwise known as "Tabby's Star," "Boyajian's Star" or the star surrounded by an "alien megastructure." The star and its weird flicker have been generating headlines since 2015, when the object was first observed. That year, the Kepler Space Telescope, which trails Earth as the planet orbits the sun, was looking for Earth-like planets around thousands of stars when it spotted KIC 8462852. Ordinarily, a planet that passes in front of a star dims the light reaching Earth from that star, a small...

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'Alien Megastructure' Ruled Out for Some of Star's Weird Dimming

Posted by K R on

'Alien Megastructure' Ruled Out for Some of Star's Weird Dimming

There's a prosaic explanation for at least some of the weirdness of "Tabby's star," it would appear. The bizarre long-term dimming of Tabby's star — also known as Boyajian's star, or, more formally, KIC 8462852 — is likely caused by dust, not a giant network of solar panels or any other "megastructure" built by advanced aliens, a new study suggests. Astronomers came to this conclusion after noticing that this dimming was more pronounced in ultraviolet (UV) than infrared light. Any object bigger than a dust grain would cause uniform dimming across all wavelengths, study team members said. "This pretty much...

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Is the "alien megastructure" around Tabby's Star actually a ringed gas giant?

Posted by K R on

Is the "alien megastructure" around Tabby's Star actually a ringed gas giant?

Ever since it was first seen to be undergoing strange and sudden dips in brightness (in October of 2015) astronomers have been speculating as to what could be causing this. Since that time, various explanations have been offered, including large asteroids, a large planet, a debris disc or even an alien megastructure. The latest suggestion for a natural explanation comes from the University of Antioquia in Colombia, where a team of researchers have proposed that both the larger and smaller drops in brightness could be the result of a ringed planet similar to Saturn transiting in front of the star....

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