A new study that ruled out all suggested natural explanations of the strange dimming behavior of the F-type main-sequence star KIC 8462852 (Tabby’s Star) in the constellation Cygnus, has reignited conspiracy theory speculation about an alleged “alien megastructure” orbiting the star.
According to conspiracy theorists, the pattern of persistent gradual darkening or dimming of KIC 8462852 revealed in the new study brings about the disturbing suggestion that a Dyson sphere “alien megastructure” built by a technologically advanced extraterrestrial species is harvesting energy from KIC 8462852 and killing it in the process.
But others suggested that the gradual dimming of the star could be evidence of the gradual process of construction of a Dyson sphere around the star.
The study, according to conspiracy theorists, raises the disturbing possibility that we are next-door neighbors — on the galactic scale — to an energy-hungry, rapacious, and likely predatory alien civilization with technology so advanced that it is capable of snuffing out the life of an entire main-sequence star through uncontrolled exploitation for energy.
The new study, an analysis of data on the luminosity of KIC 8462852 by Benjamin T. Montet at Caltech’s Cahill Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics, and Joshua D. Simon, with the Carnegie Institute of Science, found that KIC 8462852 dimmed by about 0.34 percent in the first 1,000 days of scientific observation and then by 2 percent in the next 200 days, according to Gizmodo.
The 1,000- and 200-day patterns of gradual dimming or darkening of the star, and the even more dramatic patterns of fluctuations in brightness that first brought the star to the attention of astronomers last year, have sparked speculation that a gigantic artificial structure orbiting the star may be smothering it.
The study by Montet and Simon also reviewed suggestions of natural phenomena put forward to explain the strange behavior of KIC 8462852 and concluded that none of the hypothetical models account from the pattern of darkening detected over the four-year period of observation.
According to the team of scientists in the study published on the pre-print site arXiv, titled “KIC 8462852 Faded Throughout the Kepler Mission,” the dimming behavior of KIC 8462852, about 1,480 light years away, defies all suggested natural explanations. The rate of the gradual and persistent dimming of KIC 8462852 cannot be accounted for by suggested natural occurrences, such as comet swarms or other orbiting natural space debris passing in front of the star and obscuring its light.
“We can come up with scenarios that explain one or maybe two of these, but there’s nothing that nicely explains all three,” said Ben Montet in an interview with New Scientist.
“We spent a long time trying to convince ourselves this wasn’t real. We just weren’t able to.”
The researchers also confirmed that the dimming behavior of KIC 8462852 was unique in its neighborhood. Analysis of data from more than 190 neighboring stars and more than 350 similar stars found no dimming patterns comparable to those observed in KIC 8462852.
The statement by scientific researchers that the rate at which the star’s light was fading cannot be accounted for by known natural causes has emboldened conspiracy theorists who subscribed to Penn State University researcher Jason Wright’s theory that aliens may have built a gigantic Dyson sphere around KIC 8462852.
At the time the dimming behavior of the star was first noticed last year, Wright suggested that whatever was causing the dimming of KC 8462852 “looked like something you would expect an alien civilization to build,” as Popular Science reported.
Although the new study stopped short of suggesting that a Dyson sphere alien megastructure built by technologically advanced aliens could be blocking light from the star, conspiracy theorists have gone further to suggest that an alien Dyson sphere designed to harvest energy could be extinguishing the star.
“No known or proposed stellar phenomena can fully explain all aspects of the observed light curve.”
A Dyson sphere envisaged in this context would consist of myriads of solar panels forming a gigantic artificial structure stationed in space by a technologically advanced extraterrestrial race. A massive array of solar panels smothering KIC 8462852 is the only logical explanation of the gradual darkening of the star, according to conspiracy theorists.
Alien hunters competed on online forums to demonstrate their knowledge of physics, with some suggesting the dimming was not due to rapacious aliens killing the star but the gradual installation of Dyson sphere solar panels around the star.
“Maybe we are actually seeing this Dyson sphere getting built,” an enthusiast commented. “I mean isn’t this light from many years ago?”
“This is what I was thinking,” a second enthusiast said. “The construction of whatever it is, Dyson or otherwise, is nearing completion.”
“That is what I love about quantum mechanics,” another commented. “There could be someone looking at us through an advanced telescope on a planet 100 million light years away… and they would be looking at the dinosaurs roaming the earth…”
“That is not quantum mechanics, that is just how speed of light works,” a fourth alien hunter commented, pointing out the error in the previous comment.
Yet another conspiracy theorist commented, weirdly, that the quality of Earth’s sunlight has changed lately.
“Has anyone gone outside lately during the day and noticed that the light seems much whiter or brighter and you can feel that you are being hit with something from the Sun?… I can’t explain it,” the conspiracy theory commented.
Even scientists who dismissed the alien megastructure theory are admitting that the latest observations suggest that an usual phenomenon that may be unknown to science is involved in the strange case of KIC 8462852. But others suggested it could be due to the combined effect of different known natural phenomena, such as a combination of the effects of comet swarms, debris and giant cloud dusts orbiting the star.
But experts have warned that the new study has been published only on the pre-print site arXiv, and not on a peer-reviewed journal.
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