Astronomers think strangely-behaving star could be surrounded by alien megastructures
An unusual cluster of objects in space is generating excitement among astronomers, some of whom believe the formation may be evidence of alien life in our galaxy, reports The Atlantic. Don’t get your hopes up though — it may also just be a natural occurrence that coincidentally formed around the same time we developed the ability to view it using the Kepler Space Telescope. That said, it’s still a rather unusual formation, and it’s causing quite a stir in the scientific community.
Designated KIC 8462852, the star is located above the Milky Way, between the constellations Cygnus the swan and Lyra the harp. It first attracted the attention of astronomers in 2009 when the Kepler Space Telescope singled it out as possibly having orbiting planets. It landed on the radar again in 2011, when citizen astronomers volunteering at Planet Hunters flagged it as being “interesting” and “bizarre”.
What attracted the attention of astronomers was a large mass of matter found in tight formation around the star. This would be expected if the star was young, but other telescopic evidence suggests it is a mature star. It also must be a new formation otherwise the debris field would not be there. Either gravity would have clumped the debris together or it would have been absorbed by the star.
Yale post-doctorate student Tabetha Boyajian, who is in charge of the Planet Hunters team, commented to The Atlantic that “We’d never seen anything like this star. It was really weird. We thought it might be bad data or movement on the spacecraft, but everything checked out.” She recently published a paper about the phenomena, looking at all the possible natural explanations. The most reasonable explanation is that another star passed by KIC 8462852 star with enough comets in tow to produce the unusual pattern. Cosmically speaking, it would be highly unlikely that a star would do this at the exact same time we developed the capability to see it.
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This controversial star formation has cause some astronomers to consider “other explanations”, including the possibility of alien
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