Alien Megastructure not the cause of dimming of the ‘Most Mysterious Star in the Universe’

This latest research rules out alien megastructures, but it raises the plausibility of other phenomena being behind the dimming.

Alien Megastructure not the cause of dimming of the 'Most Mysterious Star in the Universe'
This illustration depicts an uneven ring of dust orbiting KIC 8462852, also known as Boyajian’s Star or Tabby's Star. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

A group of more than 200 scientists, including Penn State Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics Assistant Professor Jason Wright and drove by Louisiana State University’s Tabetha Boyajian, is one bit nearer to fathoming the riddle behind the “most mysterious star in the universe.”

KIC 8462852, or “Tabby’s star,” nicknamed after Boyajian, is generally a common star, around 50 percent greater and 1,000 degrees more sultry than the Sun, and around 1,000 light years away. In any case, it has been mysteriously darkening and lighting up sporadically like no other. A few hypotheses flourish to clarify the star’s abnormal light examples, including that an outsider megastructure is circling the star.

The secret of Tabby’s Star is compelling to the point that more than 1,700 individuals gave over $100,000 through a Kickstarter crusade in the help of committed ground-based telescope time to watch and assemble more information on the star through a system of telescopes far and wide. Thus, a group of information gathered by Boyajian and associates in an organization with the Las Cumbres Observatory is presently accessible in another paper in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

The researchers firmly watched the star through the Las Cumbres Observatory from March 2016 to December 2017. Starting in May 2017 there were four unmistakable scenes when the star’s light plunged. Supporters from the crowdfunding effort selected and voted to name these scenes.

The initial two plunges were named Elsie and Celeste. The last two were named after antiquated lost urban communities – Scotland’s Scara Brae and Cambodia’s Angkor. The writers compose that from various perspectives what is going on with the star resembles these lost urban communities.

Wright said, “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.”

“Dust is most likely the reason why the star’s light appears to dim and brighten. 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.”

Researchers firmly watched the star through the Las Cumbres Observatory from March 2016 to December 2017. Starting in May 2017 there were four unmistakable scenes when the star’s light dipped. Supporters of the crowdfunding effort named and voted to name these scenes.

The initial two plunges were named Elsie and Celeste. The last two were named after old lost urban areas – Scotland’s Scara Brae and Cambodia’s Angkor. The writers compose that from various perspectives what is going on with the star resembles these lost urban areas.

Scientists noted, “They’re ancient; we are watching things that happened more than 1,000 years ago. They’re almost certainly caused by something ordinary, at least on a cosmic scale. And yet that makes them more interesting, not less. But most of all, they’re mysterious.”

Scientists analyzed, gathered and analyzed the flood of the data from a single target, signals a new era of astronomy. National researchers filtering through monstrous measures of information from the NASA Kepler mission were the ones to recognize the star’s bizarre conduct in any case.

The principal target of the Kepler mission was to discover planets, which it does by identifying the intermittent darkening produced using a planet moving before a star and subsequently shutting out a little piece of starlight. The online subject science assembles Planet Hunters was built up with the goal that volunteers could group light bends from the Kepler mission and scan for such planets.

Boyajian said, “If it wasn’t for people with an unbiased look at our universe, this unusual star would have been overlooked. Again, without the public support for this dedicated observing run, we would not have this large amount of data.”

Wright said, “This latest research rules out alien megastructures, but it raises the plausibility of other phenomena being behind the dimming. There are models involving circumstellar material — like exocomets, which were Boyajian’s team’s original hypothesis — which seem to be consistent with the data we have.”

Boyajian said, “It’s exciting. I am so appreciative of all of the people who have contributed to this in the past year — the citizen scientists and professional astronomers. It’s quite humbling to have all of these people contributing in various ways to help figure it out.”