Stargazers claim ‘alien megastructure’ mystery has FINALLY been solved
IT’S the deep space mystery that’s kept astronomers guessing for more than a year.
Now stargazers think they’ve finally explained a bizarre observation which led experts to claim an “alien megastructure” was orbiting a distant star.
In October last year, scientists offered a new theory to explain why a distant star called KIC 8462852, or Tabby’s Star, was displaying a bizarre “blinking” behaviour which caused its light to dim periodically.
One researcher made the serious suggestion that the light was being blocked by a huge object called a Dyson Sphere – a theoretical structure which could be built around a star in order to harvest its energy.
But a team from the University of Illinois thinks this explanation is far-fetched and has claimed the strange blinking can be explained by “avalanche statistics”.
The academics argued that the star was simply undergoing a process which meant it pumped out huge amounts of light at some times and smaller amounts at others as it went through a process called a “phase transition”.
“Examples of such transitions are magnetic systems that are slowly driven with a magnetic field, or the slow deformation of somewhat brittle materials where there is often first little crackling that gets louder and louder until there is a big snap when the material breaks,” said scientist Karin Dahmen.
The explanation will come as a disappointment to anyone who was hoping astronomers had discovered a Dyson Sphere.
Last year, Jason Wright of Penn State University said the bizarre signals around Tabby’s Star looked like a “swarm of megastructures” and suggested they were “something you would expect an alien civilisation to build”.
“I can’t figure this thing out and that’s why it’s so interesting, so cool – it just doesn’t seem to make sense,” he told The Independent.
Other scientists have claimed the behaviour of Tabby’s Star could be caused by a swarm of orbiting comets which periodically block out its light.