The strangest and perhaps the most mysterious star in the known Universe has many names, but it is highly likely that she will soon lose most “unscientific” of them. The object KIC 8462852, he is the star Tabby, also known as “the star with the alien megastructure”, became one of the most hotly debated in the past 2017. However, the results of a new study initiated by itself Tabetha Boyajian – astronomer, first noticed the unusual behavior of stars in 2015, saying that it definitely is not about some alien megastructure.
In fact, the star KIC 8462852 was first observed by astronomers of the 19th century and many times have appeared in various astronomical researches after that. However, the most striking of her “performance” was in 2015 when Boyajian and her colleagues reported a very strange performance of the data gathered by the space Observatory “Kepler”.
All stars twinkle. Observation of this phenomenon is from the Earth can be explained by the peculiarity of the interaction of the light from the star with the atmosphere of our planet. In space, as this phenomenon may be obliged immediately to a number of factors. For example, one such factor is the transit of planets passing between their home stars and the field of our observation. As a result, we can observe a short decrease of brightness, which usually is not very high — about 1 percent. By the way, thanks to this transit, astronomers are usually looking for new exoplanets.
But with the star KIC 8462852 everything turned out quite differently. Team TABATA Boyajian found that changes in the brightness of stars, which is about 1280 in light years, not just significant – they are huge. Astronomers witnessed the dimming stars down to 22 percent, and to find appropriate for such a phenomenon, the explanation has been extremely challenging. To do this, just didn’t fit any of the known factors. At least not yet.
It could all be attributed to the transit of a planet circling around the star, but the frequency of changes in the brightness of KIC 8462852 was unstable, that actually put a cross on this assumption.
Another suggested explanation was talking about the participation of a swarm of comets and other interstellar debris. Some scientists put forward the theory that the feature of such a strange behavior of the stars can be associated with their own internal processes occurring within KIC 8462852 – allegedly, she is in a kind of transitional period. Another hypothesis said that the star could devour the planet, and dimming could cause the wreckage of this planet.
In the end, was put forward quite so futuristic hypothesis for this observed “magic” can answer some alien megastructure surrounding the star. Supposedly the aliens built around the star something like a Dyson sphere that collects light energy and due to its size from time to time blocks from us a huge amount of light KIC 8462852.
While other astronomers have tried to find a reasonable explanation for the observed anomalies, the team Boyajian launched a successful campaign to raise funds on the Kickstarter platform and with the money rented a Observatory for a more detailed study of the stars KIC 8462852 in the moment when she will again reduce its brightness. On the results of the work of scientists shared in the journal The Astrophysical Journal Letters.
“We were hoping that if we see a flicker in real time, you can figure out the level of depth at all wavelengths,” says one member of the team of astronomers, Jason Wright of the University of Pennsylvania (USA).
“If the depth of these experiences were almost identical, this would indicate that the cause of the dimming is something opaque, a disk, possibly a planet or a star, maybe even something larger in space.”
But astronomers, like supporters of the hypothesis of alien megastructure, I was disappointed.
Four episodes of decrease in brightness was observed by researchers of the Observatory Las Cumbres, California (USA) between March 2016 and December 2017. Multispectral analysis of light KIC 8462852 showed that the brightness in certain wavelength ranges is reduced more than in others.
“New data show that different light waves are blocked with different intensity. Therefore, whatever took place in that moment between us and the star – it does not have full opacity, as you would expect from a planet or some alien mega structure,” says Boyajian.
Despite the fact that probably the most desirable explanation for the unusual behavior of the stars KIC 8462852 after such findings have to be deleted, we still have no answer to the question about what exactly causes such an unusual change of the luminosity of this star. Yes, alien megastructure here is unlikely to be the cause, but something they should explain such a significant reduction in brightness? It could be dust, comets, some interstellar debris. This mystery stars Tabby becomes less interesting. No, of course, becomes, but the true cause of anomalous behavior scientists still find still want. Especially when it was already spent a lot of time, money and nerve cells.
“The latest study rules out the option of an alien megastructure, but at the same time, leaves many questions and possibilities for the presence of other phenomena that could be behind the decrease of the luminosity of the star,” explains Wright.
What phenomena scientists still have a definite answer, but they’re going to continue with his work until, until you find the right solution.