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The Alien Megastructure Around Mysterious 'Tabby's Star' Is Probably Just Dust, Analysis Shows ( 75

An analysis by more than 200 astronomers has been published that shows the mysterious dimming of star KIC 8462852 -- nicknamed Tabby's star -- is not being produced by an alien megastructure. "The evidence points most strongly to a giant cloud of dust occasionally obscuring the star," reports The Guardian. From the report: KIC 8462852 is approximately 1,500 light years away from the Earth and hit the headlines in October 2015 when data from Nasa's Kepler space telescope showed that it was dimming by unexplainably large amounts. The star's light dropped by 20% first and then 15% making it unique. Even a large planet passing in front of the star would have blocked only about 1% of the light. For an object to block 15-20%, it would have to be approaching half the diameter of the star itself. With this realization, a few astronomers began whispering that such a signal would be the kind expected from a gigantic extraterrestrial construction orbiting in front of the star -- and the idea of the alien megastructure was born.

In the case of Tabby's star, the new observations show that it dims more at blue wavelengths than red. Thus, its light is passing through a dust cloud, not being blocked by an alien megastructure in orbit around the star. The new analysis of KIC 8462852 showing these results is to be published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters. It reinforces the conclusions reached by Huan Meng, University of Arizona, Tucson, and collaborators in October 2017. They monitored the star at multiple wavelengths using Nasa's Spitzer and Swift missions, and the Belgian AstroLAB IRIS observatory. These results were published in The Astrophysical Journal.

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The Alien Megastructure Around Mysterious 'Tabby's Star' Is Probably Just Dust, Analysis Shows

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  • Maybe... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Zaatxe ( 939368 ) on Friday January 05, 2018 @06:04AM (#55867687)
    ... the alien megastructure was destroyed in an interplanetary war and now it's all debris! I want to believe!!!
    • Re:Maybe... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Man On Pink Corner ( 1089867 ) on Friday January 05, 2018 @06:23AM (#55867741)

      Or, the structure is designed to capture more energetic radiation at the expense of IR.

      It's always amusing to read authoritative declarations from eminent scientists regarding how a Kardashev Type-II civilization might or might not take care of business.

    • We don't know that it's dust. We don't know that it's not an alien megastructure. All we know is that the absorption is not inconsistent with dust and that occam's razor suggests that the simplest explanation is generally the best. However, what we don't know about exosystems far exceeds what we do know. Which seems to mean that the simplest explanation (certainly the most prudent) is to say we don't yet know enough to make more than wild conjecture (and at this point even dust is wild conjecture).

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Those bastards found a cheaper way to mine bitcoins!!!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    where is this dust coming from? how does eating blue and shitting red prove that something is not a solar panel of some sort? who is stupid enough to believe that aliens would bother with a dyson sphere (impossible to stabilize, even if you have the unobtainium needed to build it), instead of a dyson swarm (cheap, cheerful, eminently scalable microsat swarm)?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The expectation with a solar panel would be that a portion of the collected energy is used to do work rather than juts frequency shifting it.

      Presumably what they did here is check the amount of energy being emitted in IR and found that it accounted for the loss of energy in visible spectra. This indicates that none of the energy is being harnessed for work (or more likely there is a difference but its well below what would be expected with our solar panel tech and we're assuming no one who can build a mega

  • I don't recall (other than some over zealous news sites) when it was probably aliens.
  • Blue (Score:5, Funny)

    by lessthan ( 977374 ) on Friday January 05, 2018 @08:34AM (#55867969)

    Or maybe they really like the color blue? Perhaps we've found the home system of the Blue Man Group, where they have a blue house with a blue window. Blue is the color of all that they wear. Blue are the streets and all the trees are too. They have a girlfriend and she is so blue. Blue are the people there that walk around. Blue like their Corvette, it's in and outside. Blue are the words they say and what they think. Blue are the feelings that live inside them.

  • Well I for one welcome our new alien dust cloud overlords!

  • If it had been real Trump would have ordered a biglier one
  • Sometimes, looking for the simplest answer forces you to make up some BS. Remember when UFOs were "swamp gas"?

  • this dust cloud comes from and how is it maintaining its form. And why don't we see similar dust clouds else where. BTW, a dust cloud can also be an alien megastructure.
  • by DontBeAMoran ( 4843879 ) on Friday January 05, 2018 @01:08PM (#55869633)

    The alien megastructure is made of a nano-fabricated material that we would call "coloured glass" if we ever saw it.

    That's why it dims more at blue wavelengths than red.

  • All OUR structures were once dust, too, and will one day be dust again.

    But most dust has never been part of a structure, and probably never will be.

    • Most dust is skin flakes and mite poop, and therefore has DEFINITELY been part of a structure at some point.
      • Most dust is skin flakes and mite poop, and therefore has DEFINITELY been part of a structure at some point.

        Interplanetary dust? Citation needed, I think.

        Even if you're confining yourself to household dust (obviously not the topic of my comment), you're still way off base []. For starters, two-thirds of it is typically stuff tracked in from outdoors.

        But I suppose if you say that "supernova poop" "has been part of a structure at some point", then you're technically correct...

        • For starters, two-thirds of it is typically stuff tracked in from outdoors.

          I live in Canada. Like all civilized cultures, we take our shoes off indoors.

  • This more closely fits the profile of an alien megastructure engineered to resemble dust.
    Only aliens with incredibly biggest technology manage to build megastructure.
    Other aliens may even attain such skill as to to cloak one convincingly as dust.
    What are the chances that two such civilizations would be in same place same time?
    Why bother to make it resemble dust if those such as we saw megastructure first?
    If we see through ruse so easily they cannot be smart enough to fool dumb people.
    It's like the fox in th

If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants. -- Isaac Newton