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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.
Update: More news about Tabby’s Star: Using two space telescopes as well as amateur telescopes on the ground scientists have determined that the dimming must come from an uneven dust cloud.