Comet swarm
Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The Alien Megastructure Star called KIC 8462852, also known as Tabby’s Star, have been discovered by the NASA Kepler Space Telescope in 2009.  This star is located about 1,500 light-years away between the Cygnus and Lyre constellations of our Milky Way galaxy. It is massive, brighter and hotter than the Sun. Since then scientists tracking the light that star emits. They found a strange pattern of light surrounding a star. A lot of explanations were offered, including aliens, interstellar junk, comet swarms. Yet, all these solutions were speculations. Until now. Scientist thinks they found the reasonable explanation.

Stars in infrared and ultraviolet
KIC 8462852 in infrared and ultraviolet. Image: IPAC/ NASA (infrared) and STScI/NASA (ultraviolet)

Earlier Assumptions

This star intriguing the astronomical community for a long time. Various explanations were offered. Some of them are:

  • Dyson sphere – Jason Wright, an astronomer from Penn State University offered very sci-fi solution. He suggested that around the star is constructed a colossal sphere, which captures most or all of the star power output. This megastructure is famous under name Dyson sphere and the first time is mentioned in the sci-fi novel Star Maker ( 1937 ). Still, the idea that aliens built such construction around the Tabby’s Star was quite unlikely and it is debunked.
    Dyson Sphere with shining interlocking circles
    An artistic impression of a Dyson Sphere. Image: Kevin Gill on Flickr


  • Comet swarms – Scientists thought the best explanation were that a huge mass of comets has been erratically orbiting. This mass was enough to dim stars light to such a degree. Still, this theory is quickly debunked by the astronomers from Louisiana State. They calculated that such a huge light block would require some 648,000 comets – each about 200 kilometers wide. This is practically impossible.
    Comet swarms
    Comet swarms. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle (SSC)


  • Interstellar junk – Valeri Makarov, from the US Naval Observatory in Washington DC, and Alexey Goldin, from Teza Technologies in Chicago, suggested the idea that there were actually two stars, which dimming along the same sight line. So, they speculate that it could be a cluster of comets or planetoids lying between the two stars. This hypothesis is also discarded.
    Debris plot by NASA

    New Explanation: Internal Causes

    The team from the University of Illinois claims that everybody looks at the problem wrong. Instead of searching for the external causes, we should focus on the inner star conditions. They used Avalanche statistic, after applied mathematical model to the collecting data. Statistics show that this star going through so-called Phase Transition. Karin Dahmen, one of the team members, explain: “Examples of such transitions are magnetic systems that are slowly driven with a magnetic field, or the slow deformation of somewhat brittle materials where there is often first little crackling that gets louder and louder until there is a big snap when the material breaks,”. Basically, this means that the star’s internal materials are transitioning, and the result is erratic outbursts that block its light.

The fact that this star is so strange, led us to the most incredible explanation. Now, when we have much more reasonable and sustainable solution for its nature, doesn’t mean that we still not facing with the phenomenon. Scientists will certainly continue with KIC’ s explorations.