Superstructure around Tabby's Star isn't alien-built, scientists conclude
The upcoming results of a Kickstarter-funded international study find a much less exciting culprit, however: space dust.

Rick Docksai | Apr 19, 2018

A star's mysterious repeated patterned dimming fueled speculations in 2015 that an alien-built megastructure surrounded it and blotted out its light, but an international team of researchers concluded in a report published this week that the blotting effect is due to nothing more than dust. The star, KIC 8462852, appears to have a massive cloud of dust surrounding it with enough particle matter to block much of its light from Earthlings' view, the researchers wrote in a report soon to be published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

The star initially drew researchers' attention when data from NASA's Kepler telescope indicated several 15%-20% dips in the star's outgoing light. Tabetha Boyajian, then at Yale University and now at Louisiana State University, led an investigation into the dimming, which she determined was too large to be due to an orbiting planet: A planet would need to be half the size of the star to block out that much light, she said.

The star acquired the nickname Tabby's Star, after her, as the investigation ensued. Several astronomers posited that the dimming was due to an extraterrestrial civilization that built a colossal superstructure around much of the Star.

But the latest analysis, which was funded by a Kickstarter campaign, put this theory to rest. Participating astronomers recorded two more dips, each blocking no more than 1-2% of the star's light, and reasoned that an alien megastructure would block the same percent of light all the time and not produce such wide fluctuations in light blockage. The researchers concluded that the block by agent is floating dust, which could have caused me either from shattered comets or from some discharge of matter from the Star itself.

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