by Dom Galeon
May 22, 2017
Over the weekend, the so-called "alien megastructure"
star or Tabby's Star resumed its unusual behavior.
Astronomers hope that new data from this recent dips
in light would help explain this bizarre phenomenon.
A Series of
astronomers turn to Twitter to ask
everyone who has access to a big enough telescope to look at the
sky, you know something is up. Indeed, something was up this past
weekend, as one of the Universe's most mysterious stars reignited
some baffling behavior.
Tabby's Star, also
KIC 8462852, once again started the
unusual pattern of dimming its lights,
a behavior first observed in 2015.
"As far as I
can tell, every telescope that can look at it right now is
looking at it right now," Tennessee State University astronomer
told Loren Grush at The
Matt Mutterspaugh, like
fellow astronomer Jason Wright from Penn State University,
noticed the dip in KIC 8462852's light emissions this past weekend.
officially on alert and we are asking astronomers on telescopes…
to please take spectra (light measurements) of the star,"
Wright told CNet.
As early as Friday,
he already observed that Tabby's Star had dimmed by three percent in
just a couple of days.
Discovered in 2009,
KIC 8462852 came to be known as Tabby's Star because a team of
astronomers, led by Tabetha Boyajian from Yale University,
noticed the unusual way its light dims. It's not uncommon for a
stars' light to dim when planets orbiting around it pass in front of
it relative to Earth.
however, didn't follow the usual pattern of such dips in light,
suggesting no periodic orbiting of planets or other cosmic bodies.
Still Probably Not
Naturally, such a
phenomenon tugged on the curiosity of astronomers, and a number of
possible explanations have been suggested.
The most common,
and perhaps popular among these - you guessed it - is that
something alien is the cause. One astronomer thinks that a
Dyson Sphere is causing the strange dips, thereby nicknaming
Tabby's Star as the "alien megastructure" star.
However, as much as
we'd (maybe) love to find aliens at the root of this strange
obvservation, other astronomers have found, and are developing,
always be the very last hypothesis you consider,"
Wright told The Atlantic back then.
Though, it doesn't
to be on the lookout.
Some think that
comet swarms, debris
from a devoured planet, or possibly even
space dust floating around the star are causing the unusual
suggest that it
could all just be flawed data, which is why nothing conclusive
has been said yet about Tabby's Star.
wasn't enough data from two years ago to say anything definitively...
Latest data. Image
Credit: David Kipping/Twitter
"We were kind
of stuck in a spot where we couldn't do anything,"
Boyajian told The Verge. "We had all the data we could, and to learn
anything more, we needed to catch it in action again."
is now a lot more data to use, but it would take time for
researchers to fully consider what the information could
tell us about Tabby's Star.
possible that the new data won't result in anything
definitive, but it's worth a shot. Some data is better than
no data at all.
At the very
least, it'll help us to better understand curiosities in the
cosmos like KIC 8462852.