“No other star of this type presents the phenomenon of slow disappearance,” said Ben Montet, a scientist from the University of Caltech.
Identified by the Kepler telescope in 2015, the star KIC 8462852 continues to fascinate the scientific world. More massive, hotter and more luminous than the Sun, it is located at 1480 light years from Earth. The mysterious star has been observed going through a certain decrease of brightness by over 20% for periods lasting from 5 to 80 days and no astronomer has so far been able to give a clear answer to the phenomenon.
Several theories have been put forward, such as the presence of a cloud of comets near the star, but these explanations have ultimately proved insufficient and unprovable.
A unique phenomenon
In an article published by The Astrophysical Journal, Josh Simon from the Carnegie Institute in Washington and Ben Montet from Caltech reveal that the star, in addition to its sudden decreases of brightness, has overall lost in brightness slowly but steadily over the four years that it was being scanned by Kepler.
“No other star of this type presents the phenomenon of slow disappearance,” said Ben Montet.
A Dyson Sphere
“This star was already quite unique because of its sporadic episodes of variation. But now we see that it has other characteristics that are just as strange,” added Josh Simon.
Are aliens trying to build a Dyson sphere — a spherical mega-structure that completely encompasses the star to capture the totality of its energy? For some scientists of the Kepler mission, this theory is quite possible.
“It’s pretty amazing”
“The abrupt change in brightness of the star KIC 8462852 is pretty amazing. Our highly accurate measurements over four years shows that the star is really becoming fainter as time goes on,” they authors of the article specified.
For now, astronomers prefer to remain fairly cautious on star KIC 8462852.