A new star very close to the Milky Way galaxy has been discovered that scientists have said contains a “swarm of mega-structures,” that were probably built by aliens.
The star, named KIC 8462852, has a very “unusual flickering habit” that have left scientists excited about the possibility that it is home to alien lifeforms.
It was kind of unbelievable that it was real data, said Yale University astronomer Tabetha Boyajian. “We were scratching our heads. For any idea that came up there was always something that would argue against it.
KIC 8462852 was discovered through Planet Hunters, a citizen science program launched at Yale University in 2010.
Using data from the Kepler Space Telescope, volunteers sift through records of brightness levels from roughly 150,000 stars beyond our solar system.
Ordinarily, planet hunters are looking for the telltale drops in brightness that happen when a planet crosses in front of its sun. That’s how we identify planets now — brief interruptions in the progress of light as it makes its way toward Earth.
Not a presence, but an absence. Already the project has uncovered a few confirmed planets and at least several dozen more planet candidates.
But one finding from the program was unlike anything else scientists had ever seen. Volunteers marked it out as unusual in 2011, right after the program started: a star whose light curves seemed to dip tremendously at irregular intervals.
At one point, about 800 days into the survey, the star’s brightness dropped by 15%. Later, around day 1,500, it dropped by a shocking 22%.
Whatever was causing the dips, it could not have been a planet — even a Jupiter-sized planet, the biggest in our solar system, would only dim this star by 1% as it transited across.
Unfortunately the Kepler telescope was badly damaged in 2013, so the researchers don’t have data from more recent dips, if there were any.
Something must be blocking the star’s light from the outside, maybe catastrophic crashes in the asteroid belt, maybe a giant collision in the planetary system that spewed debris into the solar system, maybe small proto-planets shrouded in a Pig-Pen-like cloud of dust.
But every explanation was lacking in some way, with the exception of one: Perhaps a family of comets orbiting KIC 8462852 had been disturbed by the passage of another nearby star. That would have sent chunks of ice and rock flying inward, explaining both the dips and their irregularity.
It would be “an extraordinary coincidence,” as the Atlantic put it, for that to have happened at exactly the right moment for humans to catch it on a telescope that’s only been aloft since 2009. “That’s a narrow band of time, cosmically speaking.
Boyajian, Wright and Andrew Siemion, the director of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley, are now working on getting access to the massive radio dishes they can point at the star in search of the kinds of radio waves usually emitted by technology.
Of course, the star in question is about 1,481 light-years away from Earth — meaning that even if aliens did create a giant solar panel complex out there, they did so in the 6th century, while we were emptying chamber pots out of second story windows and fighting off the first bubonic plague pandemic.
Quite a bit has changed on Earth since then. Who knows what could have happened around KIC 8462852?
The Washington Post / ABC Flash Point News 2020.