Forget Alien Megastructures, New Observations …

Forget Alien Megastructures, New Observations Explain Tabby’s Star With Dust Alone

“Regardless of the mechanism in question, we can be certain of one conclusion: the reason for the dimming of Boyajian’s star is due to dust. This is normal, particulate dust, containing particle sizes down to about 100 nanometers, or smaller than the wavelength of visible light. The same dust that causes short, day-or-less dips also causes dips that last many months, and also cause the decline that’s lasted more than a century. It’s all due to plain, normal dust.

The big, open question that now remains is where this dust came from? It’s not because the star is young or still forming, and there are incredible constraints on the star having an unseen companion. It cannot all come from interstellar dust. Was a planet devoured? Is there something even more unusual afoot? The only way to know will be with more — and better — science on this object. But one thing’s for certain: even if alien megastructures exist somewhere, they aren’t here.”

A few years ago, NASA’s Kepler spacecraft observed a most unusual star: KIC 8462852. Unique among all the stars in its field, it displayed enormous flux dips, but they were irregular. When we went back through the data, we also found that this star has been dimming, consistently but irregularly, over more than a century. Many ideas were proposed, including swarms of comets, debris from planetary collisions, or even alien megastructures. All of these ideas and more, however, fell apart with further observations.

The result? We know it’s dust that explains it all. But where does the dust come from? That’s still a mystery. Here’s what we know so far.