So what is happening with KIC 8462852, or the “alien mega-structure” as most media are calling it? Researchers from the SETI Institute (search for extraterrestrial intelligence) are now looking for any potential radio signals coming from the star system.
The star itself is about 1,500 light-years from Earth, and has strange objects around it. According to space.com: “KIC 8462852 dimmed oddly and dramatically several times over the past few years.
The dimming events were too substantial to be caused by a planet crossing the star’s face, researchers say,
and other possible explanations, such as an enormous dust cloud, don’t add up, either.”
Right now, astronomers are using the Allen Telescope Array, a system of radio dishes located in Northern California, to see if there are any radio signals coming from near KIC 8462852. Seth Shostak, senior astronomer at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California, said in a statement: “We are looking at it with the Allen Telescope Array [ATA].”
“No problem with that; I think we ought to, for sure,” Shostak told Space.com. But he also added that people “should perhaps moderate their enthusiasm with the lessons of history.”
Astronomer Tabby Boyajian, a postdoctoral graduate at Yale, and Jason Wright, a Penn State astronomer, made the recent discovery of the bizarre and mysteriously giant structure that is orbiting the star and was unlike anything they have ever seen.
Alien Megastructure Found in Space, by TheLipTV:
“The eclipses have very strange shapes in the sense that whatever is blocking it is not a circular object,” Wright told Business Insider. “And there’s lots of them — lots of things blocking the star. When you put all that together, there’s nothing like that [anywhere else] in the sky. It’s unique and very very strange.”
What’s Up With the ‘Alien Megastructure?’ by SciShow Space:
Now, scientists from around the world are looking to find possible explanations, and until more data comes, they are left scratching their heads. There are a few theories, including a giant swarm of comets or leftover pieces from a destroyed planet, and lastly an alien-built megastructure.
Wright has said that he would like to take a spectra of the star. This is a tool that allows researchers to virtually take a chemical fingerprint of an object that will tell them what it’s made of.
“I want to see spectra when it’s dim and spectra when its bright, and compare the two,” Wright told Business Insider. “And the difference should tell us what the light is passing through and tell us whatever is blocking it, what that’s made of. That will be very diagnostic.”
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The latest hypothesis involves a swarm of comets, a star that is now visible and is about 100 billion miles away from KIC 846 2852, had recently made a closer pass that could have disturbed some outer solar system comets.
The gravitational tug of the star may have pulled the comets toward the inner regions of the KIC 846 2852 star system, which would have filled it with debris, and that may be causing the blinking. But the idea of it being huge structures built by an alien civilization persists.
Could this seriously be huge structures built by aliens? Let’s dig into it a bit more.
It is thought by some that this could be an advanced society that is solving its energy crisis by constructing what’s known as a Dyson sphere. The idea of Dyson sphere was first proposed by physicist Freeman Dyson in 1960 in a paper published in Science.
Dyson’s two-page paper in the journal Science was titled Search for Artificial Stellar Sources of Infrared Radiation, and was based on a technology that other advanced civilizations in space would use, not us here on Earth. The spheres would not be a solid shell enclosing the sun, rather a number of independently orbiting structures.
Dyson had proposed that by searching for evidence of these structures, it would lead to the discovery of advanced civilizations. It wasn’t until 2013 that astronomers started to look for Dyson spheres.
Kimberly Cartier, a Penn State astronomer, told Business Insider:
The structure itself is not meant to support life.
“It’s something called a Dyson sphere, which is essentially a large porous series of solar panels… that’s meant to capture some of the starlight and convert it into usable energy for a civilization that’s orbiting farther out in a region that would be more habitable.”
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The way they search for these structures is by looking for the warm glow of infrared light that would be given off by the back side of the solar panels. This sounds simple enough, but dust floating in space (there is always dust) would also mimic the infrared glow, making the task even harder then it already is.
But as SETI Institute wrote, KIC 846 2852 is different, because the evidence suggesting astro-engineering is direct — there’s a clear-cut and periodic dimming of the starlight — a much more straightforward observation than trying to tease out a foggy bit of infrared light.
So whether you believe in advanced civilizations in space or not, this is an interesting story, and may stay that way for some time to come.