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KIC 8462852 – still at it… June 17, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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This is going to run and run, isn’t it? As reported widely a year or two back…

 

The brightness of star KIC 8462852 dropped by 15% in March 2011 then by 20% in February 2013 then returned to normal. Given that a planet dims the light by a mere 1%, whatever was producing this signal was absolutely huge.

Although astronomers talked a lot about natural explanations, such as a cloud of thousands of comets around the star or a disintegrating planet, nothing truly fitted the bill. So they went on to speculate that the signal could be produced by a vast artificial construction that had been placed in orbit to harvest energy from the star’s light.

 

I love the article though. It notes that last month there was a dimming of the star but only 2.5% in brightness…

 

Sadly, one of the explanations that is looking ever more unlikely is the megastructure. As it absorbs sunlight (causing the dips), so the structure would naturally warm up and give off excessive infrared radiation. This would make the star brighter than normal at infrared wavelengths – but this has not been seen.

But… but…

 

Yet, all is not lost for those hoping to find alien megastructures. In the first of a brace of recent papers, astrophysicist Zaza Osmanov, Free University of Tbilisi, Georgia, has pointed out that it would be better to build such a thing around the decaying cinder of a once giant star, rather than a star itselves.

Known as a pulsar, the dead stellar heart is left behind after a star explodes. It still seethes with energy, beaming radio and X-ray emission into the cosmos. Osmanov proposes that migrating to these places to harvest this energy would be a better bet for extraterrestrials than building a Dyson sphere around a normal star.

This is because pulsars emit their energy in narrow beams that sweep through space like a lighthouse. So the resulting megastructure would only need to be a ring around the star, rather than something designed to encapsulate the whole thing.

 

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