KIC 8462852, otherwise known as Tabby’s Star, is now once again making headlines as scientists are revealing that it has dimmed once again. The F-type star in the constellation Cygnus, which is about 1,280 light-years away, first came into the scientific limelight after astronomers revealed to the public their observations in 2015. Tabetha Boyajian, the astronomer who discovered the star’s strange behavior, revealed through her research that the star was apparently dimming at an unprecedented rate and at irregular intervals. Most stars that have planets orbiting them will dim at regular intervals, which is currently the only method of finding exoplanets outside of our solar system. However, due to the star’s extreme dimming and irregular intervals, astronomers could not properly determine what was exactly going on.
As reported by Universal-Sci, Boyajian and her team made an announcement last month which revealed that Tabby’s Star was at it again. In a blog post on the team’s website, it was revealed that the star had experienced its greatest dimming ever recorded. Tabby’s Star reportedly dimmed by as much as 22 percent at different intervals and at different lengths of time. The team published their first report on March 19, which showed that the star’s brightness was indeed dropping. They then published an update on March 22, which showed that the brightness levels were returning to normal. On March 26, the team revealed that the star’s brightness had dropped once again by about 5 percent.
All of the scientists’ data were taken from observations made by the Las Cumbres Observatory in Spain, the McDonald Observatory in Texas, and the Haleakala Observatories in Hawaii. The findings were also corroborated with the observations made by the Catalonia Institute for Space Studies and from an observer with the American Association of Variable Star Observers.
As reported by Universe Today, several theories have been put forward to explain the anomaly, which ranges from it being caused by a natural phenomenon to the dimming being caused by an alien megastructure that is orbiting the star. Some people even believe that an alien civilization may have started the construction of a Dyson sphere around Tabby’s star, which is basically a structure that surrounds the star to absorb its energy more efficiently.
However, most scientists believe that there may be a more rational explanation and that the dips in brightness may be caused by circumstellar debris, dust clouds, shattered asteroids, a giant planet, or a planet with abnormally shaped rings. As of now, there is still no concrete evidence to prove any of the theories, which is why astronomers still have their telescopes glued to Tabby’s Star.