It’s Dimming! Astronomers Jump At Opportunity To Solve The Mystery Of Tabby’s Star
“Perhaps, as many suggested, this was evidence of an alien megastructure being constructed? But another astrophysical scenario could explain it: a recently devoured planet. Gases would dim the star overall, while outbursts and flares create irregular flux dips.”
Earlier this decade, the Kepler mission became the most successful planet-finding endeavor of all time, turning up thousands of new worlds by measuring the transit data of some 150,000 stars. When planets passed in front of their parent star, they blocked a tiny fraction of their light, leaving behind an imprint of a periodic dimming signal. But one star dims differently from all the others. KIC 8462852, known as Tabby’s star, has irregular dips of up to 20% in brightness, equivalent to ten times the effect of all the Solar System’s planets combined. What could be causing this? While a few astronomers have proposed alien megastructures, another, simpler explanation might explain it all: a recently devoured planet.