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Mystery star KIC 8462852: If it's not aliens then it could be bad news for Earth....

22 Oct 2015, 08:18 UTC
Mystery star KIC 8462852: If it's not aliens then it could be bad news for Earth....
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

Alien megastructure? Hold your horses, it could just be a masive natural disaster...The star named KIC 8462852 continues to make waves in the astronomy community, as various explanations for the strange way it's light dims at random intervals are advanced - the most obviously interesting of which is 'gasp...aliens!'. But there might be practical reasons why - even if this isn't another civilisation - we need to be interested in this star. KIC 8462852 is somewhat bigger and brighter than our sun, but not hugely different. In the title link Steinn SigurĂ°sson, Professor of Astrophysics at Pennsylvania State University, has a theory that a comet which has been pulverised into a huge cloud of dust might be able to dim the star in the way observed. I'm not a fait enough with the astrophysics to say if that's likely to be the right explanation or not, but at the end of his post he makes an obvious but chilling* observation: "We just learned that normal middle aged stars can naturally have stuff come and dim them by 10-20% for multiple days. Imagine that happening to the Sun."Above: Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9, which was torn apart by Jupiter's gravity.A series of such events, ...

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