KIC 8462852 is a strange star that has puzzled astronomers for more than two years. Surprisingly, the star is almost five times brighter and has a mass of about 1.5 times the size of the sun. Astronomers are excited at the prospect of making discoveries after the star started displaying highly unusual behavior.
The strange occurrences in the star's brightness were announced by astronomers led by Tabetha Boyajian of Louisiana State University announced something very odd was happening to the star’s luminosity or brightness.
Scientists discovered huge dips in KIC 8462852’s brightness after analyzing data from the Kepler Space Telescope. The brightness lasted between five and 80 days, with the star sometimes losing as much as 20 percent of its luminosity. Implying that something huge must be passing in front of it.
If a planet was passing a star, the dimming would take place at regular intervals. However, in this case the dimming was irregular and it varied in intensity. Only small dips of a few percent were spotted often.
After KIC 8462852’s strange behavior was discovered, scientists have proposed several premises. The first one being that a huge family of comets are swarming the star. The other theory claims that it’s a massive and undiscovered star. However, none have been able to fully explain the dimming.
An intriguing proposal claimed that the dips were the result of an alien megastructure. The idea of such a structure was popularized by Theoretical Physicist Freeman Dyson back in the 1960s. He said that an advanced alien civilization would eventually develop the technology to harness energy from its star. One That could be achieved by building a huge structure around the star, that could generate power from it.
Excitement filled many enthusiasts after Boyajian announced that KIC 8462852 had started dipping again on May 19. The associate professor of astronomy and astrophysics at Pennsylvania State University, who initially proposed the possibility of an alien megastructure, tweeted: “ @tsboyajian's star is dipping. This is not a drill. Astro tweeps on telescopes in the next 48 hours: spectra please!”
In a YouTube discussion about the dimming on May 19, Wright said they had been “on alert” for around a week before the dimming fully began. “Just in the last two days it got suddenly dimmer,” he said, adding that they had confirmed the light from the star had dipped by 3 percent. “That was enough to say this was no statistical fluke.”
Astronomers around the globe have turned their telescopes to KIC 8462852 after the announcement. The data from their recordings is now being filtered back to the teams involved.