Somewhere between our own planet and the core of our galaxy, a well aged, faint and dimming star that is putting off indications of something orbiting it is confusing astronomers.
It sounds like another one of those potential “alien structures” situated around a star, remember when it was reported that odd flickering of stars could indicate an intelligent species is building giant structures to harvest the energy of their Sun or keep it from dying or something like that, like a “Dyson sphere?” Remember the alien megastructure theory?
A couple years after the alien megastructure theories about the star KIC 8462852 circulated, scientists tried to explain what could have blocked the light measured from it to the degree of brightness dropping up to 22 percent.
Published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, recent research indicates that another star features mysterious, unaccounted for dips in brightness.
Several other stellar objects have been observed to bear completely unexplainable features, so this isn’t the first time a star has had seemingly unexplainable flickers.
During a survey of the inner Milky Way now 6 years ago in 2012, the astronomers first observed this “new potential alien megastructure” if you will titled VVV-WIT-07, using the VISTA telescope in Chile.
Without a whole lot of foresight into what is causing the flicker, the astronomers are just pointing out a star is flickering in an unexplainable, unusual way.
One article notes “Routine scans of the sky often highlight objects that wax and wane in unexpected ways, leading to new discoveries.”
Some stars simply due to the way they burn, flicker or pulse. One such star is named a BLAP, or blue large-amplitude pulsator. In contrast, some stars dim naturally because planets go in front of them from our perspective, or perhaps a cloud of dust.
Back then 6 years ago, VVV-WIT-07’s amplitude was found to be dimming slowly for about 11 days, before then rather rapidly fading to almost no light at all for the next 48 days. That’s a relatively long time from our perspective.
Whatever eclipsed the star, it blocked an incredible 80 percent of its measured light, beating the intensity of the already unusual “alien megastructure theory” star KIC 8462852 which was only blocked up to 22 percent.
An astronomer who led a study on a similar stellar object titled J1407, otherwise known as Tabby’s star, Tabetha Boyajian isn’t feeling the speculation about aliens.
“The new data shows that different colours of light are being blocked at different intensities,” she said recently. “Therefore, whatever is passing between us and the star is not opaque, as would be expected from a planet or alien megastructure.”
Some had suggested ringed planets could produce such an odd fluctuation in light seen coming from a star. The same year, six years ago, a University of Rochester astrophysicist named Eric Mamajek led a study that recorded another anomalous flux in brightness surrounding a star.
“It’s got to be over a million kilometres wide, and very dense to be able to block that much starlight,” he said.
Next year, these researchers studying the new “alien megastructure theory star” are going to try and witness a repeat of the occulsion, and they’re ready to collect data.