Could humans have discovered an alien structure? A flickering star has been puzzling astronomers ever since last fall. Some astronomers have said that the on and off flickering of the so-called Tabby’s Star could happen because of an alien structure obstructing the light. However, observations made with the Kepler Telescope found no sign of aliens.
It’s been dubbed the most peculiar star in our galaxy and it sure lives up to its name.
The quick drops in luminosity cannot be explained, to date. Recently, the situation got even more peculiar. Astronomers Ben Montet and Joshua Simon from the Carnegie Institute have initiated a photometric analysis of Tabby’s Star. The strange object was first noticed in the Kepler’s huge database by astronomy enthusiasts.
After observing the full images sent by Kepler, Simon and Montet discovered that the light of the star occasionally dropped by as much as twenty percent, and the total stellar flux shrunk non-stop over four years.
Light and flux fluctuations in a star this big have never been seen before, although hundreds of other stars have been observed. Tabby’s Star faded by three percent during the four years of observation by Kepler.
The fluctuations were quick and did not follow the rules of star dimming. Scientists cannot come up with a reasonable explanation to this one.
So for every astronomer you ask, there’s a different theory. Some assume the flickering star is surrounded by the fragments of a comet, others believe that the view is somehow distorted, while others say the flickering is caused by the remains of a shattered planet.
None of the theories can explain the whole process. Tabby Boyajian, the astronomer who was the first to discover and name the star is set to solve this mystery by taking a closer look.
This would not be the first time scientists mistake what is a naturally occurring phenomenon for alien life. From the canyons confused with canals in the 20th century to pulsars discovered in 1967, for which scientists had no explanation and called it Little Green Men (LGM-1), to the famous perytone signal which came from a microwave oven left open in the proximity of the Parkes Observatory in Australia.
Do you think we found another civilization? Or perhaps, this time, it’s another appliance acting up? Leave a comment below!
Image Source – Wikipedia