No alien megastructure around mysterious 'Tabby's star', analysis shows


The dimming pattern of Tabby's Star was so unusual it didn't get flagged by the algorithms that sift through the data collected by NASA's planet-hunting Kepler satellite.

What's more, and as Ellis points out, a Dyson sphere-like object would absorb the star's light, causing the structure to heat up and subsequently emit infrared radiation that should be detectable from Earth.

These new results are not the first of their kind, rather confirming the results of another research group that previously determined that Tabby's star was likely orbited by a dust cloud that completes a lap every 700 days.

Instead, the team found that the star got much dimmer at some wavelengths than at others, suggesting dust as the most likely explanation. From March 2016 to December 2017, astronomers at the Las Cumbres Observatory watched with telescopes all over the world, observing four of its weird dips. "But most of all, they're mysterious", wrote the authors.

It just wasn't behaving like any other star in the sky - and the odd dimming events were only part of the puzzle. An analysis of the colour signature of those dips showed that the blockage in front of Tabby's Star absorbed more blue light than red. First studied by professional astronomers in 2015, researchers said that they hadn't seen any star behaving the same way as KIC 8462852, but could not rule out alien activity as the cause of the freaky behaviour. Earlier this year the star - which has been nicknamed "Tabby's Star" after Tabetha Boyajian who first documented its freaky behavior - began dipping in brightness with no obvious explanation.

In a paper published in the year 2015, a renowned astrophysicist Tabetha Boyajian described the dips in the light emitted by the star.

This crowdfunded observations echos how the star's unusual behavior was identified-by enthusiastic amateurs combing through Kepler space telescope data alongside expert researchers, seeking any interesting anomalies.

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"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", astronomer Jason Wright says in a statement.

As of now irrelevant speculations have been making rounds all over that included imaginative theories like the star has swallowed a planet that was unstable and that is causing its light to go away.

"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", Dr. Boyajian said. "If they were almost the same, this would suggest that the cause was something opaque, like an orbiting disk, planet, or star, or even large structures in space", said Jason Wright of Penn State, one of more than 200 researchers associated with the data-collection campaign.

It's not aliens, but Tabby's Star remains a puzzle to astronomers. They paid over $100,000 for the privilege to study the star in closer detail and their observations were published in Astrophysical Journal Letters this week. "Again, without the public support for this dedicated observing run, we would not have this large amount of data".

"We have discovered that the surface of 'Oumuamua is similar to small solar system bodies that are covered in carbon-rich ices, whose structure is modified by exposure to cosmic rays", said study lead Alan Fitzsimmons.

"We don't really have a working model quite yet, so things are still up in the air in terms of how everything is put together", Boyajian said.