Last week, astronomers were called in to try to figure out what is happening with a star, scientifically called KIC 8462852. This star is also known under the names Boyajian’s Star, Tabby’s Star and even Alien Megastructure Star.
The astronomers from the Fairborn Observatory announced that the star has begun dimming again.
Usually, when a celestial body is dimming, it is because of a planet or another object in front of it. However, Tabby’s Star doesn’t seem to have regular patterns of dimming like we would expect. The light doesn’t dim uniformly either. Actually, sometimes it dims just by 3% but other times it dims down by an amazing 20%.
What is perhaps even more interesting is the fact that his particular star has been slowly dimming for the past century. This wouldn’t be a surprising statement at all if we didn’t know that this kind of a fast dimming process is somewhat unprecedented in this category of stars. These types of stars are usually stable in brightness, with changes made through many millions of years, says an astronomer Bradley Schaefer.
Last week, on Friday, it was reported that the light from this star has dimmed by around 3% before actually returning to its previous brightness two days after. However, it seems that this event has happened previously three years ago, which could mean that Tabby’s Star does have some sort of a pattern, according to Tabetha Boyajian whom the star was named after.
Boyajian also says that the scientists are still unsure what exactly is causing the strange behavior. It is possible that the dimming is caused by the same object as of three years ago, or it could be a completely different one. If it’s the same object, it could have simply shifted or rotated in relation to the star.
Obviously, there are those who speculate that aliens might be responsible for these events. Boyajian seems to dismiss the alien theory but she does admit it sounds interesting and it’s not completely impossible. However, it is far more likely that it is just a cloud of dust or some other natural object.
The great news is, if this is, in fact, indicative of a pattern, is that there will be more fluctuations ahead of us, which means that the scientists will be able to collect a lot more data and hopefully end this mystery once and for all.