After analyzing Kepler space observatory’s data about a distant star in the constellation Cygnus, the star’s bizarre behavior kick-starts hunt for intelligent life since ET experts from California based SETI institute now eye the star.
KIC 8462852 puzzled scientists last week when Planet Hunters found in Kepler’s data some anomalies in the stars brightness. The group analyzed Kepler data that was already publicly available.
Kepler’s main goal is to find potentially habitable planets by measuring their star’s brightness. A periodic dimness of those stars may suggest that one such planet is transiting across its face.
But the dimness of KIC 8462852 was like nothing investigators had seen before. Tabetha Boyajian, senior investigator who made the discovery, reported that the dips in the star’s light were of up to 20 percent. And the events recurred every week to a couple of months.
So whatever is blocking the star’s light must be huge and moving extremely fast. Researchers came up with a lot of hypotheses. Some of them thought that Kepler may be broken; others said that comet clusters or asteroid pile-ups may be to blame. And there are people who believe in an alien civilization that is advanced enough to build a huge arrangement of solar panels.
Jason Wright of the Pennsylvania State University saw the data and was unable to provide a valid explanation. He cautioned, however, that we shouldn’t rush to reach conclusions and keep the alien-civilization hypothesis as a ‘last resort.’
Boyajian and fellow researchers even published a research paper in September on the star, suggesting that the bizarre light pattern may be caused by interfering comet debris. Wright described the explanation as ‘contrived.’ Yet, he acknowledged that it is the most plausible natural explanation for the phenomenon.
But when Boyajian showed her work to researchers at the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) institute, researchers there thought the researcher and her team were ‘nuts.’ Yet, the findings had NASA’s approval so situation changed.
The SETI group announced that the star needs to be further investigated with help from the institute’s powerful radio dishes which had been hunting for alien life for more than two decades.
Recently, Seth Shostak, one of the senior investigators involved in the SETI project, disclosed that the institute was looking at KIC 8462852 through one of America’s top-notch telescope the Allen Telescope Array.
On the other hand, Shostak declined to jump to conclusions. He said that there may be a series of explanations for the phenomenon, so more observations needed to be done.
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