While a distant star named KIC 8462852 has been observed emitting strange light by the Kepler spacecraft, Forbes contributor Ethan Siegel is quick to denounce claims that the wobbling light is the result of an alien megastructure.
All the same, the strange phenomenon observed in the star — which appears to be unique, having not been observed elsewhere — has caught the attention of a number of scientists.
A paper submitted to the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society reports that the light emit by the star “was observed to undergo irregularly shaped, aperiodic dips in flux down to below the 20 percent level.”
The study’s lead author Tabetha Boyajian, a postdoctorate researcher at Yale University, told The Atlantic that they’d “never seen anything like” it and that it “was really weird.”
We’d never seen anything like this star (…) It was really weird. We thought it might be bad data or movement on the spacecraft, but everything checked out.
According to the researcher paper, which Discovery News describes as “thorough” in a recent report, the data collected on the star that confirms the strange occurrence is not an instrumental error, as it has steadily been collected over the course of four years. In other words, the strange signal is real.
What exactly that signal means, however, is up for debate.
The notion that observed phenomenon could be the result of an alien megastructure is based on the speculatory notion that Kepler might actually have the ability to detect the signature of artificial structures in orbit around other stars.
As reductions in starlight detected by Kepler are used by astronomers to determine the existence of exoplanets, there are those who believe that the technique could also apply to megastructures, such as massive solar arrays in orbit around stars.
As for what Kepler’s data has revealed, Penn State University astronomer Jason Wright explained to The Atlantic, “Aliens should always be the very last hypothesis you consider, but this looked like something you would expect an alien civilization to build.”
In other extraterrestrial news, scientists claim octopus are extraterrestrial, NASA’s chief scientist voiced belief that we’ll find aliens within 20 years, and the sixth man to walk on the moon claims aliens prevented nuclear war on Earth.