While the prospect of aliens was first launched by Penn State astronomer Jason Wright, almost everyone in the astronomy community agreed that the chances that this was the case were "very low." Now, the latest investigations into this strange star by Louisiana State University astronomer Bradley Schaefer have reignited the alien theory, New Scientist reported. What makes this star, KIC8462852, so bizarre is the drastic changes in light we see from it over time. Many stars experience temporary fluctuations in brightness, increasing and decreasing in luminosity over time, but KIC8462852's changes are severe by comparison. Between 2009 and 2013, astronomers using the Kepler space telescope discovered that it would sometimes lose up to 20% of its brightness. What's more, the changes didn't follow any obvious pattern.
"The comet-family idea was reasonably put forth as the best of the proposals, even while acknowledging that they all were a poor lot," Schaefer told New Scientist. "But now we have a refutation of the idea, and indeed, of all published ideas." To make his discovery, Schaefer had to dig deep down into the astronomy archives at Harvard. It turns out, astronomers have data on KIC8462852 dating back as far as 1890. By analyzing over 1,200 measurements of this star's brightness taken from 1890 through 1989, Schaefer found that the irregular dimming of KIC8462852 has been going on for over 100 years. What's more, he explains in his paper that this "century-long dimming trend requires an estimated 648,000 giant comets (each with 200 km diameter) all orchestrated to pass in front of the star within the last century," which he said is "completely implausible."
One thing's certain for Schaefer: The bizarre dimmings are probably caused by a single, physical mechanism that's undergoing some type of ongoing change.
Kemo D. 7