Alien Megastructure Might Not Be So Alien After All
Ashley Allen / 6 months ago
Over the past two years, astronomers have been fascinated by strange light readings from a distant star. The Kepler space telescope observed KIC 8462852 – aka Boyajian’s Star or Tabby’s Star – dimming by up to 20% over just a few days. In other words, KIC 8462852 was doing some weird stuff. We reported the story as it developed; a number of scientists became increasingly suspicious that an orbiting alien megastructure being the culprit. A hypothesis, to be sure, but a compelling one nonetheless. Well, new research sadly dispels that idea. Instead, astronomers suspect the light fluctuations are caused by dust clouds. Plain, boring dust. Well, it’s space dust, at least.
Alien Megastructure? Probably Not
The dust theory is based on newly-observed data that shows more dimming in the ultraviolet spectrum. In other words, something is filtering light rather than blocking it. This seems to negate the idea of an orbiting extraterrestrial station.
“This pretty much rules out the alien megastructure theory, as that could not explain the wavelength-dependent dimming. We suspect, instead, there is a cloud of dust orbiting the star with a roughly 700-day orbital period.”
Or as the study’s abstract reads:
“The wavelength dependence of the fading favors a relatively neutral color (i.e., , but not flat across all the bands) compared with the extinction law for the general interstellar medium (), suggesting that the dimming arises from circumstellar material.”
So, probably not aliens. Not unless we’re talking tiny ones who built dust-sized spacecraft. That’d be cool.