That “Alien Megastructure” Star Is Flickering Again

Here we go again. That misbehaving, mysterious star — the one people want to believe is surrounded by an alien megastructure — is dimming again, and the sci-curious on the Twittersphere and Reddit has gone veritably crazy. Those with telescopes have trained them on the star, code-named KIC 8462852, hoping to catch a record of its weird, fluctuating spectra.

Here’s a little recap for the uninitiated. Back in 2015, astronomers having a gander at this particular star noticed that it was going through enormous dips in its brightness. This means one of two things, essentially — either something in front of it is blocking the light heading towards Earth, or a bizarre process within the star itself is causing it to temporarily get dimmer, like a small breeze interfering with the light of a candle.

Known as Tabby’s star — after Dr Tabetha Boyajian, the first author of the original study describing this phenomenon — scientists and plenty of the public have come up with a wide range of hypotheses to explain it. The most famous, of course, is that it’s some sort of alien megastructure, like a Dyson sphere, surrounding the star that is blocking out the light.

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