‘Tabby’s Star’ is emitting a unique light pattern, could be ‘alien megastructures’

By Vanessa Huggins | Nov 09, 2016 07:50 PM EST
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A star, named KIC 8462852, near the constellations Cygnus and Lyra above the Milky Way had caught the attention of astronomers back in 2009. The Kepler telescope had identified the star to have orbiting Earth-like planets. Over the years, the star had been emitting a strange light pattern which caught the interest of scientists.

In an interview with the Independent, the astronomer Jason Wright from Penn State University had said of the star to be "bizarre" and that the cluster of objects around the star could be 'alien megastructure".

A postdoc from Yale University, Tabetha Boyajian, first reported the dips in the star's brightness last year, thus earning the star the nick name Tabby's Star. The star had shown a dramatic changed in its brightness over the past years giving the scientists several theories of its cause.

One of the theories is that the change could have been caused by 'alien megastructures'. It was explained that if intelligent life forms inhabited the star, they would advance in terms of technology and have thought of harnessing energy from the planet's sun-like star. A thought could be of an enormous collection of solar panels are built around the star by its inhabitants.

This theory of "alien megastructure" was said to be last among all other theories to be considered by the astronomers. Other earlier theories to explain the dip in the starlight included movement on the spacecraft or even bad data. Over the half decade of observation though, analysts flagged the star as "interesting" and "bizarre".

The change in the star's light seemed not to be the normal pattern for a planet. Astronomers then took the theory of an "alien megastructure" in the star seriously.

SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) Director Andrew Siemion got involved. Space.com had said that a study of Tabby's Star had begun and its first observation took place in October 26. The Green Bank Telescope will be used for observations which will take eight hours per night for three days in a span of two months.

The Green Bank Telescope is the largest, fully steerable and most sensitive radio telescope Earth ever has. The Breakthrough Listen initiative, co-directed by SETI's Andrew Siemion, will spend $100 million for ten years to look for signals from Tabby's Star that could possibly be made from intelligent life forms, if indeed inhabited.

Other research teams have searched for signals from Tabby's Star but ,so far, were disappointed. A discussion of the planned observations on Tabby's Star can be viewed here.

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