Mysterious Tabby's Star Is Dimming Due To Space Dust

Scientists blame dust not aliens for mysterious flickering of 'Alien Megastructure' star

How Interesting Does Science Have to Be for the Public to Fund It?

Both Boyajian and her colleague Jason Wright, an astronomer at Penn State University and co-author of the new study, and practically every other scientist studying the star made it adamantly clear the chances alien megastructures were orbiting the star were extremely small.

"They're ancient; we are watching things that happened more than 1,000 years ago".

Davenport, who did separate research on Tabby's Star in late 2017 and was among those who Boyajian notified, said his contribution was mostly alerting Morris, whose expertise in observational astronomy made him "the flawless person for doing the follow-up".

A team of researchers studying "Tabby's star", a stellar object whose mysterious dips in brightness have puzzled scientists and enthralled space enthusiasts, has announced that the most likely explanation for the behavior is a cloud of fine dust circling the star-wah, wah.

A Kickstarter campaign ginned up enough interest that 1,700 people donated more than $100,000 to fund the gathering of more data on the star, which allowed Boyajian and her team to publish a new paper explaining a new theory.

The money was used to book time on ground-based telescopes including the Las Cumbres Observatory in California.

"The current evidence suggests that the short-term and long-term dimming are caused by dust of different sizes", they write.

Let's just call it the alien megastructure that wasn't. The star sporadically dims and brightens in the night sky.

Tabby's star (formally called KIC 8462852), which was dubbed the "most mysterious star in the universe" because of the inexplicable sporadic dimming and brightening of its light, does not display that odd behavior due to the presence of an alien megastructure orbiting it. "If you have something that is completely opaque like a planet, you would expect all the colors of the light to be blocked out at the same levels". This kind of dimming is usually caused by a planet passing in front of a star, but in the case of Tabby's Star (KIC 8462852) the dimming was much too extreme and erratic to have been caused by a planet passing by.

KIC 8462852 is often nicknamed Tabby's star after Boyajian, who has led its observations through the roller coaster of the past couple years. After many months and four distinct dips (named Elsie, Celeste, Scara Brae and Angkor), the star was no longer visible to telescopes in the northern hemisphere. Citizen scientists, the Planet Hunters, sifting through massive amounts of data from the NASA Kepler mission were the ones to detect the star's unusual behaviour in the first place. The results were published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters. That possibility has been ruled out for Tabby's Star because of how much its brightness wanes when it begins to flicker.

"If it wasn't for people with an unbiased look on our universe, this unusual star would have been overlooked", Boyajian said. During the telescope's heyday, between 2009 and 2013, it stared at 150,000 stars, trying to spot these tiny changes, in the process identifying 2,341 exoplanets.

"If they were almost the same, this would suggest that the cause was something opaque, like an orbiting disk, planet, or star, or even large structures in space". "We're swimming in data", says Wright.

It makes them more interesting to professional astronomers, probably. It was funded by a Kickstarter campaign that attracted support from more than 1,700 people and raised more than $100,000.

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