Once again, a distant star, known for its bizarre, inexplicable, light fluctuations, has stepped into action, this time more dramatically than ever.
KIC 8462852, also known as Tabby's Star or & # 39; Alien Megastructure & # 39; Stern We like to call it down by at least 5 percent – maybe even 10 percent – and broken the record for the worst decline since the data collected by Kepler in 2011.
The dimming began on March 16, declined 4 percent before returning to normal, as revealed by an observation blog by Tabetha Boyajian, astrophysicist at Louisiana State University, who discovered the star.
Then dimming started again in March 26.
"Today we have some very big news ̵
sacred flying spaghetti monster – we now have a 5% decline – this beats record of the deepest dip since Kepler last week !!! – https://t.co/Y9Non8bv1P
– Tabetha Boyajian (@tsboyajian) March 26, 2018
We do not know what that means, but the data will help to create a better profile of the 1,280 light-years away star to find out why it darkens its style .
Kepler's main purpose is to search for dimming stars, because this is how we find exoplanets. When a planet passes the orbit between a star and the Earth, it darkens the star by a tiny amount at regular intervals-1 percent or less.
But Tabby's star does not follow this pattern. Its darkening is very irregular and occurs at unpredictable intervals and to varying degrees.
In the Kepler observations of 2011 it was even dimmed by 22 percent. During 2017 there were several major dimming events – in May, June, August, September, October and November / December.
In addition, data archives have recently revealed that the star in addition to dimming also has periods of significant lightening in the past.
Part of what is so confusing about KIC 8462852 is that not a single hypothesis seems to be responsible for all the strangeness.
The viral "alien megastructure" idea was found to be thrown out earlier this year after analysis that some wavelengths of light were blocked more than others – which would not be the case if a structure were blocking.
Other theories include a ringed planet passing in front of the star, either absolutely huge or smaller with an orbital wobble; a swarm of comets; Space junk; the star that ingests a planet; something happens inside the star itself; and the scientific equivalent of a shoulder sugar.
But the most likely and currently leading explanation is an uneven cloud of dust swirling around the star as it would block ultraviolet light more than infrared light.
It would have to be a metric dust cloud to be able to block 22 percent of the star's light, but that's not impossible, depending on the origins of this dust.
Two other stars with similar peculiar variations in light were observed. The white dwarf WD 1145 + 017 has in its stellar flow dips of up to 30 percent, which may indicate a dust disc.
It has been observed that the variable star RZ piscium darkens up to 10 percent irregularly. It emits large amounts of infrared radiation, which also indicates dust as the cause.
KIC 8462952 observations continue, and you can follow Boyajan's blog or hashtag #TabbysStar for updates.