The Dimming Star

Astronomy is a fascinating field and one that continues to be of great interest to me. We are always discovering new and fantastic objects and events that test and stretch our theories about the universe. One of the more recent items to get our attention is KIC 8462852, also known as Boyajian’s Star or Tabby’s Star.

What’s go strange about this particular star? Well, it dims, every so often.

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Yes, I know, this is not that unusual. A star’s light dips when a planet passes in front of it. It’s one of the methods we have of finding planets. What makes Boyajian’s Star unique is how much it dims – by as much as 20%. This is staggering in relation to normal planetary transits.

Naturally, this strange behaviour has led to some outlandish conclusions – the most ambitious being that it’s aliens, building a Dyson Sphere or some other huge contraption around their star. It’s an intriguing and romantic proposal, but not one we can actively pursue – not whilst there may be other explanations.

It’s more like a natural phenomenon, after all, we have barely scratched the surface of what’s out there in the universe. Theories include swarms of comets, disintegrating planets, and dust and gas moving around the star. It’s far more likely to be one of these answers (or even a combination of them) than aliens. Which is a shame.


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