Researchers have revealed a ‘bizarre’ star they say could be surrounded by a huge alien mega structure. KIC 8462852, located 1480 light-years away, was monitored by the Kepler Space Telescope for more than four years, beginning in 2009. Now researchers say they cannot explain strange fluctuations in the light it emits – leading some to claim it could have a huge alien megastructure in front of it.
Since its first light in 2009, the Kepler Space Telescope has been scanning the cosmos in search of habitable worlds beyond our Solar System. During its routine observations, the telescope observed something very unusual. Nestled between the constellations Cygnus and Lyra, sits a strange and intriguing star.
Kepler is designed to observe stars and look for tiny dips in their brightness. These dips, especially if they repeat, can be a sign the star has one or more planets orbiting it. By measuring the timing and the size of the dips, scientists can learn a great deal about the transiting planet. The data is then processed automatically by computers with algorithms designed to look for repeating patterns – a sign that something is orbiting the star.
Kepler focused on this one region for four years, observing as many as 150,000 stars simultaneously. Due to the massive amounts of data collected, Kepler scientists rely on “citizen scientists” through a website called Planet Hunters to help them scour the data for anything unusual. In 2011, one star in particular was flagged as unusual.
Kepler observed the star KIC 8462852 for four years starting in 2009. Typically, orbiting planets only dim the light of their host star for a period of a few hours to a few days depending on their orbit. A group of citizen scientists noticed that this star appeared to have two small dips in 2009, followed by a large dip lasting almost a week in 2011, and finally a series of multiple dips significantly dimming the star’s light in 2013.