Last fall, a little-known star called KIC 8462852 became our planetary obsession when astronomers said that its erratic flickering could be the result of an alien megastructure. Further observation of Tabby’s Star yielded no signs of aliens, but the sudden dips in luminosity continue todefy explanation. Now, things just got a bit weirder.
In an unpublished paper posted today to arXiv, Caltech astronomer Ben Montet and Joshua Simon of the Carnegie Institute describe the results of a new photometric analysis of Tabby’s Star, which was first flagged in the Kepler Space Telescope’s database by citizen science astronomers.
Visit our new websites featuring all the news and latest technology that is about to change the world we live in forever
By carefully examining all the full-frame images collected during Kepler’s observational campaign, Montet and Simon discovered something astonishing: Not only did the star’s light output occasionally dip by up to 20 percent, its total stellar flux diminished continuously over the course of four years.
For the first 1000 days of Kepler’s campaign, Tabby’s Star decreased in luminosity by approximately 0.34 percent per year. For the next 200 days, the star dimmed more rapidly, its total stellar flux dropping by 2 percent before leveling off. Overall, Tabby’s Star faded roughly 3 percent during the four years that Kepler stared at it—an absolutely enormous, inexplicable amount. The astronomers looked at 500 other stars in the vicinity, and saw nothing else like it.
All the links in Encyclopedic.co.uk stories are in RED with a Square and arrow, follow the links if you need to get more information, All our stories have all the links back to the original source, we also have other versions of the story on our website, Search our site using the link to the top left, check them all so you can decide what is the truth or copy and paste some words into google and get even more sources.
Any external stories, features, news feeds, articles or external website content, linked to from within this website (through direct links or RSS feed boxes, etc.) are the absolute, and strict, copyright of the writers, owners or publishers concerned.
“The part that really surprised me was just how rapid and non-linear it was,” Montet told Gizmodo. “We spent a long time trying to convince ourselves this wasn’t real. We just weren’t able to.”
This isn’t the first time astronomers have claimed that Tabby’s Star is fading. Earlier this year, Bradley Schaefer of Louisiana State University decided to examine the star in old photographic plates of sky dating back to the 19th century. He found that over the past 100 years, the star’s total light output has diminished by a whopping 19 percent. But shortly after publishing his claims, other astronomers started poking holes in them, saying that the observed dimming was the result of flawed data. Schaeferpushed back, and things got a little bit ugly.
The controversy over Schaefer’s work is what prompted Montet to look for long-term trends in another way. “We realized that in order to settle this, you needed either a long baseline, or high precision data,” Montet said. “Kepler has the latter.” Montet added that the rate of dimming he measured in the Kepler data is about twice what Schaefer found, which “is different, but not necessarily inconsistent.”
Jason Wright, the Penn State astronomer who first suggested that Tabby’s Star might be the site of a vast alien construction project, agreed that the new analysis lends credibility to Schaefer’s claim of century-long dimming. “The new paper states, and I agree, that we don’t have any really good models for this sort of behavior,” he said. “That’s exciting!”
Keivan Stassun, an astronomer at Vanderbilt who disputed the idea of long-term dimming, said that Tabby’s star continues to defy explanation. “[Montet’s] intriguing new findings suggest that none of the considered phenomena can alone explain the observations,” he told Gizmodo. “In the end, figuring out this puzzle may require accounting for a combination of effects.”
Some of the most credible explanations to date include a swarm of cometary fragments, the effect of a distorted star, or the remnants of a shattered planet. Certain things can explain long-term dimming while others can explain short-term flickering, but as Montet put it, “nothing nicely explains everything.”
Fancy a holiday in rural France ?
Find your ideal holiday accommodation in France, with peace of mind that all our properties are officially registered
Our aim is to provide potential holiday makers with a choice of properties, all of which are officially recognised by the French authorities as holiday lettings. Every gite and holiday accommodation on our website is registered in France in one of two ways. It is either registered with the local Mayor as a tourism/short stay property or is is registered as a holiday letting business in France and so has a SIRET number. We will not advertise any properties unless we have seen evidence of this. If you want anymore information about this, please do contact us.
Dont forget to “Like” us on Facebook