Good explanation...but...not as exciting as other possibilities I think. I've read so much science fiction...books and books of it..ever since...well I developed a 'taste' for it. It does open the mind to other possibilities...alien structures..some great minds out there have formulated a lot of theories. I love to see that. It is amazing what people can 'think' when given a direction of thought
By Stephanie Pappas, Live Science Contributor March 26, 2018
A faraway megastar that once raised questions about aliens because of its weird pattern of dimming has darkened once again.
By now, though, researchers have figured out that it's not an alien megastructure that is causing the dimming; it's just dust. Still, astronomer Tabetha Boyajian of Louisiana State University and colleagues are keeping a close eye on the far-off star, trying to figure out what the dust is and where it came from. On March 16, the brightness of the star started dipping, Boyajian and her colleagues reported on their blog. The dip in brightness was the largest observed dip in the star since 2013, Boyajian wrote.
As of March 22, the star's brightness was increasing rapidly and was almost back to normal.
Tabby's star The vagaries of KIC 8462852, the star better known as "Tabby's star" in honor of Boyajian, have been the subject of scientific sleuthing for years. In 2015, researchers led by Boyajian reported that the Kepler space observatory had captured a completely new phenomenon at Tabby's star. At irregular intervals and for odd lengths of time, the light from the star would dim by as much as 22 percent. Nothing could really explain it. One theory was that the star might be surrounded by an alien megastructure such as a Dyson sphere, an orbiting array of solar panels designed by some intelligent lifeform.
But a January 2018 study by Boyajian and her colleagues debunked that notion. They studied the spectrum of light coming from the star and found that different wavelengths were blocked by the mystery occlusion at different levels of brightness. What this means is that whatever passes between the star and Earth is translucent, not opaque like a megastructure would be. The best explanation for what might be causing the dimming, the researchers found, was very fine space dust.
Boyajian and her colleagues have been researching the star with funds donated via Kickstarter. Among the remaining questions: How is the dust is orbiting the star — in clouds, or perhaps in a ring? And where did the dust originate?
Mystery dust Boyajian and her team have a few ideas about what the dust is. In a 2016 paper, they suggest that it might come from collisions between larger orbiting objects in an asteroid belt; however, that explanation was hard to reconcile, they warned, because the asteroid-belt scenario should produce other detectable phenomena, like brightness dips of different depths and lengths representing collisions between objects of different sizes.
Another possibility, they wrote, is that the dust could be from a single, giant impact, like the one that broke the moon away from Earth. This theory doesn't fit well with the pattern of dimming seen, though, particularly small dips in brightness without a regular reoccurrence interval matching the larger dips. A third option might be minute planetary bodies that are themselves surrounded by dust. That's an attractive theory because the small asteroids or rocky objects would keep the dust from dispersing, but like the giant-impact theory, it doesn't fit the observed dimming patterns very well, the researchers wrote.
The final theory is that the dust is orbiting in a highly irregular, elliptical orbit, like a comet — in fact, the researchers wrote, it might even be a broken-up comet. This hypothesis matches the star's dimming patterns if you assume that whatever broke up the comet hit it with enough force to "kick" its tail forward. If the particles in the tail are large enough, they could maintain that backward-comet orientation even against the electromagnetic forces of the star, the researchers wrote.
The latest dimming event started with a slow decline and ended with a rapid increase in brightness, Boyajian and her team wrote on their blog. Dust from a backward comet tail and then larger chunks from the broken-up body would explain that uneven pattern.
The 'Alien Megastructure' Star Just Set a New Record by Going Really Dark
Will we ever know what's going on with it?
MICHELLE STARR/ 27 MAR 2018
Once again, a distant star know for its bizarre, unexplained light fluctuations has kicked into action, this time dipping in brightness more dramatically than ever.
KIC 8462852, also known as Tabby's Star or 'alien megastructure' star as we like to call it, has dimmed by at least 5 percent - maybe even as much as 10 percent, breaking the record for the deepest dip since the data collected by Kepler in 2011.
The dimming started on March 16, dropping down 4 percent, before returning to normal, according to an observation blog run by Tabetha Boyajian, the Louisiana State University astrophysicist who discovered the star.
Then the dimming started again on March 26.
"Today we have some very big news - data taken at TFN last night show the flux is down 5 percent," Boyajian wrote. "This drop has now been confirmed by AAVSO observer John Hall. Looks like we beat the record set just last week on the deepest dip observed since Kepler!"
We don't know what this means yet, but the data will help build a better profile of the 1,280-light-year distant star to help figure out why it dims the way it does.
Kepler's main purpose is looking for dimming stars, since this is how we find exoplanets. When a planet passes between a star and Earth as it orbits, it will dim the star by a tiny amount - 1 percent or less - at regular intervals.
But Tabby's Star doesn't follow this pattern. Its dimming is highly irregular, occurring at unpredictable intervals, and to varying degrees.
In the 2011 Kepler observations, it dimmed as much as 22 percent. It had several major dimming events throughout 2017 - in May, June, August, September, October and November/December.
In addition, archives of data recently revealed that, in addition to dimming, the star has also gone through periods of significant brightening in the past.
Part of what's so perplexing about KIC 8462852 is that no one hypothesis seems to account for all the strangeness.
The "alien megastructure" idea that went viral was thrown out earlier this year after analysis determined that some wavelengths of light were blocked more than others - which wouldn't be the case if a structure was doing the blocking.
Other theories include a ringed planet passing in front of the star, either absolutely enormous or a smaller one with an orbital wobble; a swarm of comets; space junk; the star swallowing a planet; something happening inside the star itself; and the scientific equivalent of a shrug emoji.
But the most likely, and currently leading, explanation is an uneven cloud of dust swirling around the star, since that would block ultraviolet light more than infrared light.
It would have to be a metric butt-ton of dust to be able block 22 percent of the star's light, but that's not impossible, depending on the origins of such dust.
There have been two other stars observed with similar peculiar light fluctuations. White dwarf WD 1145+017 has dips of up to 30 percent in its stellar flux, which possibly indicates a dust disc.
And variable star RZ Piscium has been observed dimming erratically by up to 10 percent. It emits large amounts of infrared radiation, also pointing to dust as the culprit.
skywalker: Very funny, ghost boy
Jun 3, 2018 14:58:58 GMT -6
lois: Casper he should come fix mine. Mine is doomed
Jun 26, 2018 21:54:27 GMT -6
spotless38: Iam back after a long break . What a couple of years I had . After what had happened I lost my brother and had to bury him and then I had caught that type A flue and I was a very sick puppy I also needed blood for the loss of it .
Jul 7, 2018 13:30:41 GMT -6
lois: Very Happy to see you Ron. Missed you. Glad you are doing better now. Sorry for your lost. I did not know your brother had passed. hugs lois
Jul 10, 2018 0:52:45 GMT -6
paulette: Ron - hope you've hit a quiet spot. Sorry for your loss.
Aug 3, 2018 10:49:30 GMT -6
lois: I picked up my phone a few days ago and I looked at the name of the caller. Boy was I surprise. It has been a couple of years. So good to hear your voice Ron. Hope you make it a habit again. love and hugs .
Aug 15, 2018 23:21:38 GMT -6
leia77: Spotless, I am glad that you are feeling better and welcome back! I too am back from a long time away...
Aug 31, 2018 2:08:32 GMT -6
jcurio: I am much relieved to see that you have been on here, Spotless! I hope that things are going much better for you now
Sept 19, 2018 16:46:42 GMT -6
jcurio: And Lois, And Lorelei!
Sept 19, 2018 16:47:07 GMT -6
casper: And Meeeeeee!!
Oct 16, 2018 18:41:31 GMT -6
lois: Sorry guys I cannot see the print. On is tiny hand computer
Oct 21, 2018 20:42:09 GMT -6
lois: Casper your page stops at page five in 2016
Nov 15, 2018 23:54:01 GMT -6
lois: How did your Halloween night go this year?
Nov 15, 2018 23:54:58 GMT -6
skywalker: He posted on the Halloween thread this year.
Nov 25, 2018 18:33:36 GMT -6
lois: Oh ok Sky I will check it out. Thanks.
Dec 21, 2018 21:45:31 GMT -6
lois: What topic was it under.
Dec 21, 2018 21:51:07 GMT -6