The star KIC 8462852 grabbed headlines recently as some wondered whether it was surrounded by an “alien megastructure” due to its strange dimming behavior, but the SETI Institute was unable to pick up any unusual radio signals coming from the vicinity.
Every few weeks or months, the star would blink, dimming to as little as 80 percent of its usual brightness. Some theorized this blinking was caused by the shadow of an alien megastructure.
This strange behavior is not caused by planets. But the most plausible explanation, according to the astronomers who found the dimming, was the presence of cometary debris around the star. This explanation was considered a good but not great idea by the astronomers, so the mystery remains to an extent.
The press latched onto a different culprit than comets: alien megastructures – giant astroengineering projects that aliens had undertaken in their solar system.
So the SETI Institute swung the antennas of the Allen Telescope Array in the direction of the star, searching for two weeks for unusual radio signals.
The SETI Institute looked for two different kinds of signals: extremely narrow band transmissions and broader transmissions. The narrow band transmissions would be signals that stuck to one very specific spot on the dial and could be used as a hailing channel. The broader transmissions were aimed to find intense microwave radio beams that aliens may use to propel transport rockets.
SETI Institute astronomer Seth Shostak said in a statement:
The history of astronomy tells us that, every time we thought we had found a phenomenon due to the activities of extraterrestrials, we were wrong. But although it’s quite likely that this star’s strange behavior is due to nature, not aliens, it’s only prudent to check things out.
None of either kind of signals were picked up. While it is possible that was because the measures were not sensitive enough, the astronomers think that their parameters were valid for any alien civilization attempting contact.