Astronomers scramble to probe 'alien megastructure' star

LCOGT light curve for Tabby's Star

As with previous dimming events, this can't be easily explained by any ordinary stellar behaviour.

Unable to explain these changes, scientists considered a variety of possible causes, including powerful magnetic activity, a comet swarm, or even a possible megastructure built around the star by an intelligent alien civilization. But no leading hypothesis has emerged, so scientists have been eager to capture a highly detailed picture of the light coming from the star during one of these dimming periods. On Friday, May 19, the F-type main-sequence star located in the constellation Cygnus started losing its luminosity by three percent and portraying mysterious dips in its brightness yet again.

Yesterday the star was observed to dip again - this time by 3 per cent - sending amateur and professional astronomers in a rush to focus their telescopes.

Astronomers were ready for the event - they have pointed telescopes from around the world at the star and are now collecting as many different wavelengths of light as they can.

Discovering life forms outside of Earth is most astronomers' coveted discovery moments, that's why back in 2015 when stargazers saw a glimmering star they speculated that it may be due to an alien megastructure. Something massive must be circling Tabby's star. More precise measurements at different wavelengths could help us zero in on whatever material is actually occluding it. As the research and observations continue, scientists around the globe are hoping that spectral readings will give them a clue as to what, if anything, passed in front of the star.

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A mystery star behind an "alien megastructure" theory is acting strangely again. It has bewildered cosmologists from that point forward, however this is the first occasion when they've seen it diminishing continuously, displaying an unprecedented chance to watch whatever it is that is hindering the star's light.

Tyler Ellis, an astronomy graduate student working with Tabetha Boyajian, updated Gizmodo via email this weekend to let us know that the follow-up response has so far been "pretty extensive". "Infrared and ultraviolet observations rule out a protoplanetary disk here; astronomers must consider other explanations". Other collaborators are doing spectroscopy, trying to figure out which areas of the spectrum, exactly, are dimming.

Whatever is happening on Tabby's Star, dozens of people living on a small blue planet 1,300 light-years away (and 1,300 years later, because the light that is hitting us now left Tabby's Star in the 8th century), are intent on finding out.

That note says this is the "largest and first clear dip seen in over a year of monitoring", adding that it "shows no sign of having yet reached a minimum".

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