Tag Archives: Tabby’s Star

More strange behavior from Tabby’s Star

Astronomers reviewing past data of KIC 8462852, known as Tabby’s Star to the public, have discovered that not only has it been dimming in a variety of inexplicable ways, it also has brightened twice in a manner that eliminates all past theories for its behavior, including alien megastructures.

The latest findings from Carnegie’s Josh Simon and Benjamin Shappee and collaborators take a longer look at the star, going back to 2006—before its strange behavior was detected by Kepler. Astronomers had thought that the star was only getting fainter with time, but the new study shows that it also brightened significantly in 2007 and 2014. These unexpected episodes complicate or rule out nearly all the proposed ideas to explain the star’s observed strangeness.

Up until now, all the changes to the star had involved dimming, though in ways that did not fit any present theory of stellar evolution. Thus, astronomers theorized that the dimming was caused by something moving in front of the star, from comets to dust to alien structures. This new data of two significant brightening events makes all those theories invalid.

Share

Tabby’s Star is dimming again and astronomers are rushing to watch

The uncertainty of science: Astronomers today have noticed that Tabby’s Star has begun to dim precipitously again, and have put out a call for people to observe it.

No one still has a good theory to explain the star’s light changes, so having the chance to gather data throughout an entire dimming cycle will be invaluable.

Share

Could Tabby’s Star have eaten a planet?

A new theory has been proposed by astronomers to explain the unprecedented dimming of Tabby’s Star, and it isn’t an alien civilization.

If Tabby’s star devoured a planet in the past, the planet’s energy would have made the star temporarily brighten, then gradually dim to its original state. The bigger the planet was, the longer the star would take to dim. Depending on the size of the planet, this event could have happened anywhere between 200 and 10,000 years ago.

As the planet fell into its star, it could have been ripped apart or had its moons stripped away, leaving clouds of debris orbiting the star in eccentric orbits. Every time the debris passes between us and the star, it would block some light, making the star seem to blink.

If true, this theory would suggest that such events can happen more than scientists has expected. Moreover, this theory can be tested during future observations when the star experiences its next dimming.

Share

Computer modeling suggests light fluctuations at Tabby’s Star are natural

A computer analysis of the light fluctuations of Tabby’s Star suggest to astronomers that the changes are not caused by objects blocking the star (such as an alien Dyson Sphere under construction) but are instead natural variations caused as the star evolves.

This conclusion is decidedly uncertain. They do not know the nature of this stellar evolution. And they are applying avalanche models to the star to come to this conclusion.

Share

Aggressive SETI observations of Tabby’s star upcoming

Breakthrough Listen, an effort to listen for radio signals from alien civilizations that, plans to devote significant time this year observing Tabby’s star to see if an alien mega-structures are causing that star’s unexplained dimming.

While Siemion and his colleagues are skeptical that the star’s unique behavior is a sign of an advanced civilization, they can’t not take a look. They’ve teamed up with UC Berkeley visiting astronomer Jason Wright and Tabetha Boyajian, the assistant professor of physics and astronomy at Louisiana State University for whom the star is named, to observe the star with state-of-the-art instruments the Breakthrough Listen team recently mounted on the 100-meter telescope. Wright is at the Center for Exoplanets and Habitable Worlds at Pennsylvania State University.

The observations are scheduled for eight hours per night for three nights over the next two months, starting Wednesday evening, Oct. 26. Siemion, Wright and Boyajian are traveling to the Green Bank Observatory in rural West Virginia to start the observations, and expect to gather around 1 petabyte of data over hundreds of millions of individual radio channels.

Share

The mystery of Tabby’s Star deepens

The uncertainty of science: New data from Kepler has made it even more difficult for scientists to explain the strange fluctuations and dimming of Tabby’s Star.

KIC 8462852, as it is more properly known, flickers so erratically that one astronomer has speculated that nothing other than a massive extraterrestrial construction project could explain its weird behaviour. A further look showed it has been fading for a century. Now, fresh analysis suggests the star has also dimmed more rapidly over the past four years – only adding to the enigma. “It seems that every time someone looks at the star, it gets weirder and weirder,” says Benjamin Montet at the California Institute of Technology, who led the study.

There are as yet no natural explanations for the star’s dimming.

Share

New analysis says it ain’t aliens at strange star

The uncertainty of science: A new analysis of old star data has concluded that KIC 8462852, also known Tabby’s Star and subject to random fluctuations that no scientist can explain, has not dimmed by 20% in the past century.

This reduces the chances that the fluctuations are caused by the slow accumulating construction of a Dyson sphere by an alien civilization, as some have proposed, but it still does nothing to explain the star’s random changes in brightness.

Share