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A mysterious star whose repeated bouts of darkening might be due to "alien megastructures," according to some researchers' conjectures, may now have more than a dozen counterparts that display similarly mystifying behavior, a new study finds.
Further research into all of these stars might help solve the puzzle of their bewildering flickering, the study's author said.
Scientists - Fluctuations - Light - Star - KIC
In 2015, scientists noticed unusual fluctuations in the light from a star named KIC 8462852. This otherwise-normal F-type star, which is slightly larger and hotter than Earth's sun, sits about 1,480 light-years from Earth, in the constellation Cygnus.
When the researchers analyzed data from NASA's Kepler space telescope, astronomer Tabetha "Tabby" Boyajian, then at Yale University, and her colleagues found dozens of odd instances of KIC 8462852 dimming by up to 22%, with such dips lasting anywhere from a few days to a week. These events did not appear to follow any pattern and seemed far too substantial to be caused by planets or dust crossing the star's face.
Megastructure - Hypothesis - Bottom - Astronomers - Lists
The megastructure hypothesis is near the bottom of most astronomers' lists these days when it comes to Boyajian's star, however; further analyses have pointed to more prosaic explanations, such as clouds of dust or comet fragments. Still, scientists have not yet nailed down the precise cause of the odd dimming. The answer remains elusive in part because Boyajian's star seemed unique; there were no known counterparts to provide additional clues that might help researchers solve this cosmic mystery.
Now, study author Edward Schmidt, an astrophysicist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, suggests that he may have discovered more than a dozen stars like Boyajian's star.
Schmidt - Counterparts - Boyajian - Star - Software
Schmidt looked for counterparts of Boyajian's star using software that searched for analogous dimming events from about 14 million objects with varying brightness monitored in the Northern Sky Variable Survey from April 1999 to March 2000. He...
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