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In September of 2015, KIC 8462852 (aka. Tabby’s Star) captured the world’s attention when it was found to be experiencing a mysterious drop in brightness. In the years since then, multiple studies have been conducted that have tried to offer a natural explanation for this behavior. In lieu of one, there’s been plenty of speculation as to what could be causing the dimming effect – including the controversial “alien megastructure” theory.
Unfortunately, after years of excitement and speculation, the scientific community may have finally driven a nail into this theory’s coffin. According to a new study by a team of over 100 astronomers, and led by Assistant Professor Tabetha Boyajian – who made the original discovery – it now appears likely that KIC 8462852 (aka. “Tabby’s Star”) is being partially obscured by dust and not – I repeat, NOT – an alien megastructure.
Study - First - Post-Kepler - Brightness - Dips
The study, titled “The First Post-Kepler Brightness Dips of KIC 8462852“, recently appeared in The Astrophysical Journal Letters. Led by Prof. Boyajian from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, the team consisted of astronomers from the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC), the University of La Laguna in Spain, the American Association of Variable Star Observers, and the Center for Exoplanets and Habitability at the University of Warwick.
The study was also made possible thanks to a Kickstarter campaign that Prof. Boyajian and her colleagues launched in 2016. The campaign successfully raised more than $100,000 to pay for observation time so that Boyajian and her colleagues could gather more data on KIC 8462852. In partnership with the Las Cumbres Observatory, they gathered spectroscopic data on the star using a network of telescopes from all over the world.
Dimming - Pattern - Cloud - Dust - Star
What they found was that the dimming pattern was most likely caused by a cloud of obscuring dust around the star, as evidenced by...
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