Alien megastructure?

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#Alien #SpaceAlien megastructure? Flickering star KIC 8462852 won’t give up its dark secret : A new paper published to the open source science journal arXiv has scoured all the data recorded by the Kepler space telescope since it was launched in 2009 for any trace of KIC 8462852.

The star — and its strange behaviour — began to be captured by Kepler’s high-precision imaging from 2011. The study shows it has dimmed overall by a startling degree over the four years it was in the space telescope’s field of view.

This is over and above the huge — but short lived — dips in the star’s light detected in 2011 and 2013. How a star could dim so fast, yet alone ‘pulse’ in an erratic, non-predictable way, remains a mystery.

DYING LIGHT

If it was a planet, or even a series of planets, the interval would be rhythmical. Measurable. Predictable. KIC 8462852 (otherwise known as ‘Tabby’s Star’ after its discoverer Tabetha Boyajian) has an erratic glow. What’s more, it’s getting dimmer over time.

These ‘red flags’ were highlighted as early as the 1960s as a possible sign of an immensely advanced alien civilisation. Such a society would have enormous energy needs in order to span interstellar distances.

Big dipper … A chart from the new study showing KIC 8462852’s dimming and brightening events while being observed by the Kepler space telescope. Source: Montet and SimonSource:Supplied

To meet these needs, one option would be to build a solar-system spanning sphere of solar panels capable of harvesting every photon their home star emits. The concept was dubbed a “Dyson sphere” after the name of its creator.