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Why the 'Tabby Star' is mystifying astronomers

Why the 'Tabby Star' is mystifying astronomers

Over the past weekend astronomers were rushing to fix their telescopes on the mysterious star which spawned the theory because it was, once again, acting strangely. From time to time, the light from this star is blocked by some enormous quantity of material moving between the star and our telescopes.

Last week, astronomers rushed to unravel the mystery surrounding KIC 8462852, also known as Boyajian's Star, Tabby's Star, or our personal favorite, the alien megastructure star. The star's unusual brightenings and dimmings have made some researchers think that it might attract some alien structures around it. The star is remarkable because of one odd behavior, it shows variations in brightness that can not be adequately explained by any known scientific phenomenon.

By comparison, if Jupiter - the biggest planet in our Solar System - was to pass in front of our own star the Sun, an observer from Tabby's solar system would only see a 3 per reduction in brightness.

Located some 1,300 light years away in the constellation Cygnus, the star dimmed by up to 22 percent before returning to normal at the time it was discovered showing the mysterious changes in 2015.

The most popular theory formulated by some researchers is that an alien megastructure orbiting around the star has caused the depletion in the radiance of the star.

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If this were any other star, getting even one telescope at such short notice would be almost impossible. It has bewildered cosmologists from that point forward, however this is the first occasion when they've seen it diminishing continuously, displaying an unprecedented chance to watch whatever it is that is hindering the star's light. This wouldn't be a surprising statement at all if we didn't know that this kind of a fast dimming process is somewhat unprecedented in this category of stars.

Wright said the call had gone out to amateur as well as professional astronomers to observe Boyajian's star during this dimming period. However, not everyone is convinced this is the reason behind Tabby star's weird behavior.

In response to the call, the twin 10-meter telescopes at the W.H. Keck Observatory in Hawaii have been trained on the star, as has the Breakthrough Listen Initiative's Automated Planet Finder telescope at Lick Observatory in California.

The Breakthrough Listen initiative, which searches for signs of intelligent life in the universe, has also taken an interest in the star and will be observing it with the Automated Planet Finder telescope at Lick Observatory in California, according to Andrew Siemion, director or the Berkeley SETI Research Center, said in the webcast. "There's a palpable tension".

Now, the star is repeating its fading act, according to Jason Wright, an astronomer at Pennsylvania State University. Scientists haven't detected any radio signals coming from that direction, even since they started listening with the massive Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia. Following a successful crowdfunding campaign by star-discoverer Tabetha Boyajian last autumn, that's exactly what astronomers have been gearing up to do.

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