Ever since NASA discovered water on Mars, where we could be heading to within the next 20 years, it seems anything is possible, including the existence of aliens. You read the last part right. Scientists studying a strange star are saying a megastructure created by aliens may the be the cause of the star’s unusual activity. Alien conspiracy theorists, you’ve been waiting for this moment.
The story starts with Yale University astronomer Tabetha Boyajian who was studying a star called KIC 8462852, approximately 1,481 light-years away, that dimmed exponentially every couple of years for reasons unknown. Boyajian compiled her findings and reached out to Jason Wright, another astronomer, from Penn State University but more importantly a researcher who developed a procedure for identifying signs of unearthly civilization.
Upon studying the information Wright concluded a “swarm of megastructures” probably with solar panels to harness the star’s energy were responsible for the star’s dimming.
“When [Boyajian] showed me the data, I was fascinated by how crazy it looked,” Wright told The Atlantic. “Aliens should always be the very last hypothesis you consider, but this looked like something you would expect an alien civilization to build.”
Now Boyajian and Wright know finding alien megastructures around the star is high unlikely, but they said it’s worth examining the possibility, albeit “skeptically” as Wright told Slate.
The star was discovered in 2011 through the Planet Hunters program at Yale University where data collected from the Kepler telescope was studied to track a star’s brightness and possibly identify a planet. If a star lost brightness while crossing in front of the sun hunters knew the star was possibly a planet. KIC 8462852’s brightness fell 15 percent 800 days into the Planet Hunters study of it and then around day 1,500 the brightness dropped 22 percent, something that wouldn’t happen even if a Jupiter-sized planet passed in front of it. According to Slate, the brightness would only drop by 1 percent.
This hypothesis aligns with what scientists who think about alien life have been saying, that an alien civilization would be able to use a star’s energy.
The scientists are currently trying to see if there are technology produced radio waves emitting from the star to determine if there's in fact technology.
[via Washington Post]