Alien Megastructure Around A Star Is Just A Swarm Of Comets

Posted: Nov 26 2015, 2:23am CST | by , Updated: Nov 27 2015, 1:31am CST, in News | Latest Science News

 
Alien Megastructure Star Likely Swarmed by Comets
This illustration shows a star behind a shattered comet. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

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Star KIC 8462852 may be swarmed by comets, astronomers suggest.

Star KIC 8462852 displays a mysterious pattern of brightening and dimming of light. The star was spotted by Kepler Space Telescope a while ago and ever since several explanations about this megastrcuture have surfaced. Some suggest it is the result of a catastrophic collision in the star’s asteroid belt while other suggests that an alien civilization is at work.

Now researchers at Iowa University believe that they may have the most logical explanation for the weird behavior of the star. They suggest that dips in the light in the star may be caused by a swarm of comets.

For reaching the explanation, researches thoroughly looked at the data collected through the Infrared Array Camera of NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope and found that the star KIC 8462852 dips in brightness up to 22 percent and the blinking is not regular as well. It takes sometimes days or even several months to occur. This kind of stellar behavior is very odd and has never been observed in any of 150,000 stars that have been spotted by Kepler so far.

“The scenario in which the dimming in the KIC 8462852 light curve were caused by the destruction of a family of comets remains the preferred explanation.”Massimo Marengo, Iowa State University associate professor of physics and astronomy and his two collaborators wrote.

They have taken into account infrared wavelengths as they believe there should be an excess of infrared light around the star.

When dust close to the star gets high enough temperature, it creates a visible glow. But they did not find any significant excess of infrared light from warm dust.

So Marengo and his colleagues suggest that the destruction of a family of comets near the star is the most likely explanation for the mysterious dimming. But they do not rule out other explanations as well.

“It's possible that a family of comets is traveling on a very long, eccentric orbit around the star. At the head of the pack would be a very large comet, which would have blocked the star's light in 2011, as noted by Kepler.”

Marengo believes more conclusive evidences are required to reach a conclusion.

"This is a very strange star," he said. "It reminds me of when we first discovered pulsars. They were emitting odd signals nobody had ever seen before, and the first one discovered was named LGM-1 after 'Little Green Men.” In the end, it turned out to be a natural phenomenon.

Marengo said. "We may not know yet what's going on around this star. But that's what makes it so interesting."

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