Sadly, not aliens (NASA/Getty/Ian O’Neill)
If you were hoping that the bizarre transit signals coming from Tabby’s Star were signs of a massive alien construction site, you’d better sit down.
A new study published in Astrophysical Journal Letters today documents a highly-detailed astronomical study of the star, concluding that this stellar oddity is driven by natural phenomena and most likely not caused by an extraterrestrial intelligence.
Since citizen scientists of the exoplanet project Planet Hunters identified the odd transit signal of KIC 8462852 from publicly-available data collected by NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope in 2015, the world has been captivated by what it means. Though KIC 8462852 is a fairly average star as stars go, it exhibited inexplicable dimming events that have never been seen before.
Finding something extraordinary in deep space is often followed by extraordinary explanations, including the possibility that some super-advanced alien civilization is building a “megastructure” around its star. Over time, more rational hypotheses have been ruled out, but how do you rule out aliens fiddling with their star’s brightness? Well, that’s taken a little more time.
Now, thanks to a study headed by astronomer Tabetha Boyajian of Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, it seems ...