“Just to clarify, neither Jason or myself … are advocating that it is an alien megastructure, but we also can’t completely rule it out.” -Kimberly Cartier
When we launched the Kepler spacecraft, we expected that we’d be able to measure the light from over 100,000 stars at once, practically continuously, over the timespan of many years. We discovered a number of planets, variable stars and eclipsing binaries, including many of the most Earth-like planets ever. But one star stands out as unique: Tabby’s star.
While planets might block up to 2% of a star’s light, Tabby’s star dims by up to 20%. The flux dips aren’t periodic, and there’s no infrared radiation accompanying it. In the entire Kepler catalogue, it’s unique. Since the conventional explanations fail, maybe it’s aliens! While the Alien Megastructure hypothesis may tickle our fancy, two new, independent studies both offer a much more natural way out.
Could it be due to a new type of stellar outburst in this star, as the smaller flux dips hint? Or perhaps long-period comets with dust cloud halos intercepting the light? We’ve got a long way to go before ‘aliens’ is our conclusion!