Astronomers launch ambitious bid to discover whether an extraterrestrial civilisation built ‘megastructure’ around a distant sun.
It’s a claim so astonishing that it seems impossible to take seriously.
But astronomers weren’t joking when they said an “alien megastructure” could be orbiting a far-away sun.
Now a group of stargazers has launched a bid to raise enough cash to solve the riddle of the “most mysterious star in the galaxy”, which has the official name of KIC 8462852 but is more commonly called Tabby’s Star.
A team from Yale University has launched a Kickstarter crowdfunding bid to raise $100,000 “to secure the telescope time necessary to solve the mystery”.
“There is still no widely accepted theory to what is behind this star’s strange behaviour,” wrote astronomer Tabetha Boyajian , who was the first to notice its weird “blinking”.
In a paper entitled “What The Flux”, Boyajian described how the light produced by the far-off sun dimmed periodically.
Mystery star: This graph shows the pattern of the dimming of KIC 8462852 (Image: arXiv)
This led other astronomers to suggest the effect was caused by a “megastructure” called a Dyson Sphere, which is a theoretical power planet set up to harvest energy from a star.
However, this theory is deeply controversial and has not yet been confirmed.
Other astronomers have suggested the dimming may be caused by comets passing in front of the star.
Boyajian, whose nickname ‘Tabby’ was also given to KIC 8462852, hopes that the Kickstarter campaign will raise enough cash to find out exactly what’s happening around the star.
Light years: KIC 8462852 was monitored by the Kepler Space Telescope for four years (Image: arXiv)
“The data for this project will be used to explore ALL possible scenarios to explain the star’s dips in brightness,” she continued.
“While it is possible that we will find that the dips are not consistent with any of the natural explanations offered so far (which would be the most exciting result!), such data by itself would not lead us to immediately conclude that the ‘alien megastructure’ hypothesis is correct.”
Unusual light: KIC 8462852 has a strange aura of light surrounding it (Image: arXiv)
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