Destroyed Planet or Alien Megastructure: Why Is This Mysterious 'Star' Flickering?

Posted May 25, 2017

"Fortunately, Tabby's star is not too faint and so there are a lot of observers and telescopes ... that have graciously agreed to take some time out of their science to grab a spectrum for us [tonight]", as reported by the Inquistr.

Efforts to explain the weird behavior of Tabby's Star range from the fanciful to the ho-hum - from the effect of swirling cometary fragments to a massive megastructure built by aliens.

This week, observations of the star located some 1,400 light-years away showed a potentially major dimming event was beginning to happen again. Astronomer Phil Plait wrote about the oddness of this star. The dimming was first observed by the Kepler Spacecraft between 2011 and 2013. The spectrum of a star is all the light that star produces broken down by the color of that light.

Astronomers do not believe it is being caused by a planet passing in front the star as this would not cause such a significant change in brightness, and it would be more predictable. Not so for KIC 8462852 which exhibits sudden dimming events that defy explanation.

U'khand landslide: Blocked roads to re-open today, assures CM Rawat
The unofficial death toll, however, was pegged around 10,000 as many bodies were never found. Although no casualties were reported, nearly 15 thousand tourists are stranded.

Wright said the call had gone out to amateur as well as professional astronomers to observe Boyajian's star during this dimming period. The Swift space telescope has already scheduled multiple observations of the star at various times tomorrow, and a number of other telescopes around the world are planning to squeeze in an observation or two.

A mystery star behind an "alien megastructure" theory is acting strangely again. Humans do not yet have the capability of building such structures.

Are there civilizations in the universe's faraway corners that have built megastructures around their stars to harness energy?

An artists depiction of a theoretical Dyson sphere.

$400 billion price tag for California single-payer bill
In one proposal, a new payroll tax on employers - with a rate of 15 percent of earned income - could provide the new revenue. Senate Bill 562 , titled the Healthy California Act , goes before the state Senate appropriations committee in Sacramento.

One of the proposed possibilities for the dimming had been an alien Dyson swarm. Soon after publishing the research, Marengo had said, "This is a very odd star".

As he notes, astronomers should still keep their eyes peeled, because dimming events previous year "came in clumps". That's why the alarm was sounded as a new dip occurred rather than months later after historic data was reviewed.

You're forgiven if the name KIC 8462852 doesn't ring a bell.

Pulsars are rapidly spinning neutron stars with beams of light that are only visible when they sweep across the earth. Now, that big messy pile of planetary debris could be orbiting Tabby's Star on pretty consistent basis, periodically blotching out a significant amount of its light. When such objects were first discovered, it was hypothesized that the pulsars were signs of an intelligent alien race. That's why the last resort, alien intervention, was skeptically considered to try and provide an explanation for this unknown outer space phenomenon.

Emma Watson wins Best Actor at MTV Awards
While Stranger Things won the Show of the Year award, the Best Villain was won by Jeffrey Dean Morgan for The Walking Dead. The movie nominees included Watson for Beauty and the Beast, Get Out's Daniel Kaluuya, Hailee Steinfeld, Taraji P.