Friday, October 16, 2015

Have We Found Evidence of an Alien Civilization?

KIC 8462852. Credit: Arxiv

A star, named KIC 8462852, located 1,480 light years from Earth, has been found with a highly curious transit signal. In a paper submitted to the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, astronomers, including citizen scientists from the Planet Hunters crowdsourcing program, report: “Over the duration of NASA's Kepler mission, KIC 8462852 was observed to undergo irregularly shaped, aperiodic dips in flux down to below the 20 percent level.” The research paper is thorough, describing the phenomenon, pointing out that this star is unique - we’ve seen nothing like it. Kepler has collected data on this star steadily for four years. It’s not instrumental error. Kepler isn’t seeing things; the signal is real.

“We’d never seen anything like this star,” Tabetha Boyajian, a postdoctorate researcher at Yale University and lead author, told The Atlantic. “It was really weird. We thought it might be bad data or movement on the spacecraft, but everything checked out.”

The Planet Hunters volunteers are depended on to seek out transits in Kepler’s stars in the direction of the constellation Cygnus. This is a huge quantity of data, from over 150,000 stars in Kepler’s original field of view, and you can’t beat the human eye when identifying a true dip in starlight brightness. The Planet Hunters described KIC 8462852 as “bizarre,” “interesting” and a “giant transit.” They’re not wrong.

The researchers worked through every known possibility, but each solution presented a new problem. For example, they investigated the possibility of some kind of circumstellar disk of dust. However, after looking for the infrared signal associated with these disks, no such signal could be seen.

The star is a mature F-type star, approximately 1.5 times the size of our sun. Circumstellar disks are usually found around young stars.

Jason Wright, an astronomer from Penn State University, is set to publish an alternative interpretation of the light pattern. SETI researchers have long suggested that we might be able to detect distant extraterrestrial civilizations, by looking for enormous technological artifacts orbiting other stars. Wright and his co-authors say the unusual star’s light pattern is consistent with a “swarm of megastructures,” perhaps stellar-light collectors, technology designed to catch energy from the star.

“When [Boyajian] showed me the data, I was fascinated by how crazy it looked,” Wright said. “Aliens should always be the very last hypothesis you consider, but this looked like something you would expect an alien civilization to build.”

This idea evolved into what’s called a Dyson Sphere, a gigantic sphere that completely encloses a star. Such a sphere would be dark in visible light but emit a lot of infrared. People have looked for them, but we’ve never seen one. What if we caught an advanced alien civilization in the process of building such an artifact? Huge panels (or clusters of them) hundreds of thousands of kilometers across, and oddly-shaped, could produce the dips we see in that star’s light.

Boyajian is now working with Wright and Andrew Siemion, the Director of the SETI Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley. The three of them are writing up a proposal. They want to point a massive radio dish at the unusual star, to see if it emits radio waves at frequencies associated with technological activity.

"We've ruled out the usual suspects and are scratching our heads and can't figure out what this anomaly is," said physicist Michio Kaku.

Scientists have been looking for decades for signs of advanced civilizations capable of controlling the output of a star, Kaku said. "The trademark would be some bizarre, seemingly random flux in star light -- and that's what we have here."

The Planet Hunters study seeks to explain reasons for it, which include instrument defects, shrapnel from an asteroid belt pileup and an impact of planetary scale.

The final 'natural scenario' it poses is if another star had passed through the KIC 8462852's system, it could have pulled comets inward, but it's far from certain.

Whether there are aliens constructing huge megastructures to feed their power needs at KIC 8462852, or it’s a more natural scenario, this is a pretty weird and interesting star. And it’s definitely worth investigating further.

8 comments:

  1. Here are the secrets of Nibiru-Planet X! Why have they been hidden by NASA for 40 years?
    http://www.blue-planet-project.com/Nibiru-2015-Planet-X.html

    ReplyDelete
  2. Fast easy thinking, if not malwill, takes to the alien or catastrophic explanation. As it is said, it is unusual or nothing seen before, then there are a lot of unusual, weird or not seen before things awaiting to be discovered an explained. Why not looking harder for an explanation that can be confirmed and repeated by many not just by some lucky illuminated?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Fast easy thinking, if not malwill, takes to the alien or catastrophic explanation. As it is said, it is unusual or nothing seen before, then there are a lot of unusual, weird or not seen before things awaiting to be discovered an explained. Why not looking harder for an explanation that can be confirmed and repeated by many not just by some lucky illuminated?

    ReplyDelete
  4. These guys must not have gotten the memo that our planet's society is too stupid and backward to receive truthful information about the existence of space aliens!! We are so backward we are still killing people with different colored skin!! How the hell are going to deal with space aliens with completely different types of bodies!! I just hope the builders of these giant structures are Union Builders!!

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  5. Occam's Razor suggest the obscuration is comets, almost certainly not a Dyson sphere of a size that would require the mass of many planets to cause the measured flux drop.

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  8. omets, almost certainly not a Dyson sphere of a size that would require the mass of man

    ReplyDelete