Tabby’s star is probably just dusty, and still not an alien megastructure | Science News

Real Science. Real News.

Science News is a nonprofit.

Support us by subscribing now.


Tabby’s star is probably just dusty, and still not an alien megastructure

New analyses suggest the object might have an odd stellar cycle or be shrouded in tiny particles

7:00am, August 31, 2017
illustration of a ring of debris

SLOW FADE  Tabby’s star dims strangely over the course of days and years. Explanations have ranged from a destroyed planet to a ring of debris (shown in this artist’s illustration), but new studies suggest that clouds of dust or a strange stellar cycle might be more likely.

Alien megastructures are out. The unusual fading of an oddball star is more likely caused by either clouds of dust or an abnormal cycle of brightening and dimming, two new papers suggest.

Huan Meng of the University of Arizona in Tucson and his colleagues suggest that KIC 8462852, known as Tabby’s star, is dimming thanks to an orbiting cloud of fine dust particles. The team observed the star with the infrared Spitzer and ultraviolet Swift space telescopes from October 2015 to December 2016 — the first observations in multiple wavelengths of light. They found that the star is dimming faster in short blue wavelengths than longer infrared ones, suggesting smaller particles.

“That almost absolutely ruled out the alien megastructure scenario, unless it’s an alien microstructure,” Meng says.

Tabby’s star is most

This article is only available to Science News subscribers. Already a subscriber? Log in now.
Or subscribe today for full access.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from Science News

From the Nature Index Paid Content