Comets, Dyson Sphere or something else?
Well this kickstarter deserves your attention. It could change our life in the universe, or it could show us something that we never even knew could exist to that scale in this universe. So what exactly are we talking about?
Well first who am I? I’m a Reddit moderator for KIC 8462852, I support the AAVSO (American Association of Variable Star Observers). I even sponsored this star. I urge you to donate as well. I’m a pretty novice Amateur Astronomer (I still use apps on my phone to tell me where to look in the sky sometimes).
That being stated, my day job is a consultant for mostly larger companies to get better rankings in Google or more fans in Facebook. In other words I stare at Charts all day trying to extrapolate meaningful data, and when a mystery appears you do everything in your power to solve that mystery. That’s exactly why this is very much like my day job.
For several years, Planet Hunters, a group that looks for dimming stars was observing Data from Kepler when they noticed a star that dips in a very weird way. When a star dims it could mean a planet (it could also mean dust, comets and more). Huge planets, like Jupiter can dim a star by 1%, this star has been dimming by 15% and 22%. All with weird shapes and sizes, things that look like a Triangle or non-natural shapes overlaying other bands of dimming. There is a very weird pattern of three, Like in my job I would have flagged that as a weird trend to follow up on. but it’s not conclusive by any stretch of the imagination. Most of the time the star does nothing, it burns like every other normal star of it’s F class. Then every so often it goes nuts. As if massive objects are passing in front of the star.
Astronomers have been looking at these light curves and they look weird. The group that discovered that star is now asking for funds (actually a very small amount of money relative to the question they are asking) for additional research. This is a no-brainer please contribute! $100,000 for a project like this is a minimal cost to have a good telescope network pointing at it.
What makes this case so interesting is that it’s increasingly likely that KIC 8462852 has been subjected to at least 100 years of dimming based on observations that dated back to 1890.
In other words this star not only dims at 15%-22% on random days, it also likes to long term trend with additional blocking of light of roughly 20%. You’d need enough comets to dim the star 20% long term, and still have enough ‘firepower’ to block it an additional 22% on peak days. This sends the number of comets to pretty unrealistic sizes and numbers. However as far as natural solutions this fits the best. Because it’s not that comets can’t do it. It’s just that magnitude and frequency needed to do that would be off the charts in terms of volume and size. It’s so much bigger than ever observed that it doesn’t make sense.
There could be a number of possible things causing this, the problem is every single one of these has a problem with it.
It can’t be a collision because you’d get some heat excess. We’re not seeing that. It can’t be a planet (that’s 1% at most), even with rings you’ll see they have a distinct look. It can’t be asteroids because the way they dip and sizes, it can’t be dust around the star because that would glow when looking at heat, it cannot be dust in interstellar space because it would have affected other nearby stars in the Kepler data. There are a million things it can’t be.
Still Most Likely Not, But Aliens Cannot be ruled out currently.
Now people start to imagine a civilization constructing more and more of these giant super advanced type of solar panels to keep up with additional demand. As the years go by more and more of these solar panels are blocking the sun making it appear as if it’s dipping in light. These solar panels don’t have to be thick, but the assumption is that most likely are not transparent, otherwise why go though all the trouble but not capture as much energy as possible?
That’s a Dyson Sphere (swarm or bubble, most likely not a shell). The point being that it’s Aliens we’re talking about. This is a science fiction level structure , literally in Star Trek (TNG, Relics) though is rooted in Freeman Dyson’s paper that said it’s logical for a civilization to start building solar panels in space, on a solar system sized scale. When power generation becomes a priority and you have exhausted the supply on your home planet you look to the stars and start building super advanced solar panels to generate more power.
These Earth to Moon sized panels (or flexible reflective sheets) start to cover more and more of a star. Eventually blocking large amounts of the light. We’ve seen weird things before. Pulsars are a good example. These confounded scientists for years, just as Tabby’s star is now. (Tabby’s star is the nickname of the star, in honor of Tabitha Boyajian the individual that is largely credited with discovering this star.
But sometimes we end up with unsolved mysteries such as Allan Hills 84001 where science hits a wall. You’re close enough to know that what you are seeing is X but you are missing one piece to confirm it. Or when science comes close to disproving it, such as WOW Signal! but not close enough to rule out an alien signal.
Today, we look back at the Menzel gap. Still cursing his name Donald Menzel for not funding a minimal cost for future generations. Now here we are and we need to get all the information we can, for future generations. This is why I believe this kickstarter must be funded.
Honestly I don’t know what it is. It could be Aliens, it could be comets, or it could be several things happening at the same time. Whatever it is I believe it warrants research.