Friday, April 28, 2017

A strange star with various names

The star that is dubbed KIC 8462852 in the catalog of stars surveyed by the Kepler space telescope shows a highly variable dip pattern in its light curve [1-4]. The brightness-versus-time plots of a typical star either is a flat curve (straight line) or a straight line with periodic, regular dips in brightness.

Wondering about this unusual fluctuations in brightness, Tabetha Boyajian, a postdoctoral scholar at Yale University, asked: “Where's the Flux?” She called KIC 8462852 the WTF star [1,2].

The unusual light fluctuations of this star, discovered by citizen scientists and studied by “Tabby Boyajian,” continues to intrigue scientists and triggers speculations about an advanced cosmic civilization. KIC 8462852 now is known as Boyajian's star  or Tabby's star [2]:

The star that stumped Boyajian—now officially known Boyajian's star and colloquially called Tabby's star—has captivated astronomers and the general public alike. Like all great enigmas, it has generated a seemingly infinite number of possible solutions—none of which wholly explain the curious observations. Whatever is responsible may lie outside the realm of known astronomical phenomena.

Is the discovery of this sporadically dimming star—more than 1,000 light-years away—an indication of the existence of an alien civilization capturing up to 20% of star light and generating energy by a Dyson sphere mega structure?  The F-type star has become an object of  SETI (search for extraterrestrial intelligence) research [4].

Keywords: astrophysics, astronomy, photometric measurements, dimming star, light curve, star enigma, star synonyms.

References and more to explore

[1] Author collective: Planet Hunters X. KIC 8462852 - Where's the Flux? Accepted for publication in MNRAS:
[2] Kimberley Cartier and Jason T. Wright: Strange News From Another Star. Scientific American May 2017316 (5), pp. 36-41.
[3] KIC 8462852: Where's the Flux? [].
[4]  Author collective: A Search for Brief Optical Flashes Associated With The SETI Target KIC 8462852. The Astrophysical Journal Letters February 2016, 818 (2) [].