Off World

Astronomers find a large swarm of unknown structures in faraway space

Joseph LibunaoOctober 15th 2015
Search for ET

As part of our search for extraterrestrial life, astronomers have taken a particular interest in the habitability of exoplanets, planets located outside our solar system. Since planets likely orbit a large star, one method of detecting them is to check whether that stars light is dimmed when an orbiting planet comes between the star and Earth. This is called transit photometry. Since the establishment of the Kepler Space Telescope, the numbers of exoplanets discovered has skyrocketed. But recently there has been one case of particular interest.

The Kepler Space Telescope made an observation via transit photometry on the light from KIC 8462852, 1480 light years away. However, the light dimming was neither minute nor regular. In fact what was detected was rather significant, occurring at irregular intervals varying by as much as 20%, and staying dark for up to 80 days.

Possible Explanations

As the data gathered checked out, a possible explanation is that a sea of comets is circling the star. This is extremely unlikely since a tremendous number of comets is needed to block that much light. Currently there are plans to propose that a massive radio dish be pointed at the unusual star to see if it emits radio waves at frequencies associated with unnatural technological activity. We should receive word on whether this request was granted by January 2016.

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