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Astronomers say they have discovered a star that may be orbited by giant alien 'megastructures'

By midian182
Oct 15, 2015
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  1. NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope was launched in 2009 with the purpose of finding faraway planets that could potentially support life, but astronomers say it may have discovered something even more exciting – a large cluster of objects in space that look like something you would “expect an alien civilization to build.”

    Kepler spent the last four years observing a patch of sky between the Cygnus and Lyra constellations. The telescope monitored more than 150,000 stars simultaneously, looking for repeated tiny dips in the light emitted by the stars which are often caused by the shadows of orbiting objects. The data was analyzed by Planet Hunters, a program that asked ‘citizen scientists’ to examine the light patterns, and one star in particular stood out as “interesting” and “bizarre.”

    When a planet passes in front of a star, the star dims only for a short period of time - and this happens on a regular basis. But when a star called KIC 8462852 was examined, it was discovered that the light it emitted was darkening by as much as 20 percent at irregular intervals and staying dark for anywhere between 5 and 80 days.

    Tabetha Boyajian, a postdoc at Yale, told The Atlantic : “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.”

    Scientists say the light fluctuations aren’t caused by a planet, and while they could be caused by a mass of matter in tight formation, KIC 8462852 is too old to be surrounded by the rings of debris that tend to circle around younger stars. Neither do the scientists think it could be caused by a recent collision.

    This leaves the possibility that another star had pulled a string of comets close to KIC 8462852. Boyajian recently published a paper on the discovered phenomenon, noting that this comet theory is the most promising explanation - even though it would involve an incredibly improbable coincidence.

    Penn State astronomer Jason Wright gave an alternative explanation: “Aliens should always be the very last hypothesis you consider, but this looked like something you would expect an alien civilization to build.” Wright proposed that the light pattern may correlate with a “swarm of megastructures.”

    Boyajian is writing a proposal with Wright and Andrew Siemion, Director of the Berkeley SETI Research Centre, to direct a massive radio dish at the star to study its radio waves. If any frequencies that suggest technological activity are discovered, the next step will be an observation using the Very Large Array in New Mexico. “If we saw something exciting, we could ask the director for special allotted time on the VLA. And in that case, we’d be asking to go on right away,” said Wright.

    Image credit: Reinhold Wittich / Shutterstock

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  2. pandu9933

    pandu9933 TS Rookie

  3. NightAngel79

    NightAngel79 TS Booster Posts: 166   +41

    It's Jodie Fosters Dad!!
     
    BMfan likes this.
  4. SirGCal

    SirGCal TS Maniac Posts: 365   +136

    Could it instead be a dense asteroid field around the star?
     
  5. yRaz

    yRaz TS Evangelist Posts: 1,906   +954

     
  6. SirGCal

    SirGCal TS Maniac Posts: 365   +136

    That only means that it's not an early star asteroid field, it could still be another one, we have one. Or a used-to-be planet that got clobbered hard by a massive comet and destroyed. Lots of other ways to make huge rocks then waiting for the birth of a star.

    While I'm all for aliens, I find it more likely to be some other debris right now.
     
  7. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 8,558   +2,900

    And yet we as 100 year olds that have only been studying space for less than 10 centuries know exactly what is possible with old stars and can actually predict the age of a star from across the galaxy. *end-sarcasm*

    These discoveries are nothing more than speculation from the mind of someone desperately seeking to be heard and commended for their opinion. Until we document the birth of a star and know exactly how far away it actually is, we will never know how old it is.
     
  8. Gaara

    Gaara TS Enthusiast Posts: 99   +25

    Discovered a star that may be orbited by giant alien 'megastructures' HAHAHAHAHA stop smoking crack will you lol
     
  9. yRaz

    yRaz TS Evangelist Posts: 1,906   +954

    Our asteroid field isn't dense enough to block out light from the sun in any significant manner. On top of that asteroids are too small themselves to block out light from the sun. An asteroid also wouldn't dim the light for upwards of 80 days.

    The fact that it dims the star by up to 20 % is also quite outrageous. To do something like that it would have to be an object that is very large and it would have to be very close to the star. The objects blocking out this light are behaving so bizarrely that the more reasonable explanation is less likely.

    The only natural thing we can think of to explain this is a cluster of comets about the size of the earths orbit, which would have to stripped from of the ort cloud of a passing star. On the other hand, people say it looks like what an alien civilization would build because this observation is in line with what we think we would see if someone tried to build structures around a star designed to use starlight as energy.

    The amount of light that it is dimming it for and the long, random intervals it's dimmed for show that something really bizzare is going on. Blocking out 20% of the light is something that a gas giant orbiting close to the star would do, but it'd only dim the light for a few minutes to a few hours. In this case the light stays dimmed for upwards of 80 days which is a length of time we've never observed a star dimmed for. What ever objects are orbiting this star are truly massive.

    The cool thing about this is when we look at it with a radio telescope we'll be able to tell almost immediately whether or not something weird is going on(IE, Aliens).
     
    Silvernine, ThanosPAS and Littleczr like this.
  10. misor

    misor TS Evangelist Posts: 1,163   +197

    so we need a star certificate of live birth? ;)

    seriously, watching national geographic and discovery channels made me realize you are somewhat right. one group of scientists will claim this 'fossil' is 65 million years old while another will debunk it because the actual age is 10,000 years old off from initial estimates...
     
  11. yRaz

    yRaz TS Evangelist Posts: 1,906   +954

    We can measure very accurately how far away stars are, it's also easy to know how old they are. We can look at the spectra of light coming off the star and know how much of what element it is fusing. Stars fuse different amounts of different elements during the various stages of their life and we can use that information to tell us how old they are.
     
    H3llion likes this.
  12. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 8,558   +2,900

    Careful, you are sounding very much like these scientist. Scientist that do not have any documentation that can be used as actual facts. There is no possible way scientist can know whether stars age differently than others. Debris around a star says nothing to support the age, maybe a generalization of young or old but nothing specific. They can't even say for sure how old our star is, much less one that can only be viewed by telescope.
     
  13. yRaz

    yRaz TS Evangelist Posts: 1,906   +954

    Source?
     
  14. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 8,558   +2,900

    The *****ic comment is thinking we can accurately say how old an object is that is older than recorded history.
     
  15. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 8,558   +2,900

    Why are you asking me to supply a source to debunk an opinion?
     
  16. yRaz

    yRaz TS Evangelist Posts: 1,906   +954

    I'll need a source on it being an opinion too while you're at it
     
    H3llion likes this.
  17. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 8,558   +2,900

    You are! You are asking me to supply a source dubunking a source that hasn't been created yet. That's worse than the chicken or the egg question. Anyone in their right mind would know your source is the one that comes first. You provide me with source material that documents the birth, life, and death of a star. Then and only then will I have cause not to debunk your opinions of how old a star is. Hell we couldn't accurately say if there are any phenomenons that slow or accelerate the stars aging. We couldn't know cause we are still stuck on this planet.
     
  18. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 11,702   +1,886

    I've sort of come to the conclusion the Kepler Telescope and the astronomers involved with its use, have their parallels in the eccentric old man on the beach with a metal detector. Both of them want desperately to believe the thing that set off the beep is something of great value. But alas, at the end of the day, it's probably just another rusty tin can...:oops:
     
    Arris likes this.
  19. yRaz

    yRaz TS Evangelist Posts: 1,906   +954

    There are phenomenons that slow and accelerate star aging. One could be a star that's in a large star cluster. The stars create a center of gravity and the stars closest to the center age slowest. This is because mass distorts space-time and things slow down. Something that would accelerate the aging of a star is it's mass. More massive stars age faster than lower mass stars. Another thing that could accelerate the aging of the star is if a high mass star sucks hydrogen away from a low mass star. However, we can tell when this happens because the ratios of elements being fused in the core of each star are different.


    You're wrong on this whole subject. Now either find a source and defend your claims or shut up. Maybe you'll learn a little about astrophysics in the process and how this isn't "opinion"
     
    Silvernine likes this.
  20. Squid Surprise

    Squid Surprise TS Guru Posts: 867   +277

    OK... instead of name calling... you BOTH could have expended a bit of energy and come up with a source... it only takes like a minute....

    http://www.science20.com/news_artic...accurately_determine_the_age_of_a_star-151973

    ""The relationship between mass, rotation rate and age of the observed stars is now defined well enough that by measuring the first two parameters, the third, the star's age, can be determined with only 10 percent uncertainty," said Barnes."

    So this NEW way of finding the age of stars still gives a 10% uncertainty... so I'm leaning towards cooley here....

    Anyone want to provide something else? Why start dissing each other when simply putting some proof will show yourself in the right?!?!
     
  21. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 8,558   +2,900

    I'm not wrong in saying you have no evidence in your theories. You are the one believing anything you hear without proper documentation or evidence. Until we can actually leave this planet there will be no source to support either way, regardless of how long we study astrophysics. You are the one supporting a hypothesis as facts. I'm simply calling you out on your support of false facts. Facts that will never be determined accurate while space travel remains on our bucket list.

    They say they know how old the star is, but yet still can't fully explain why it is flickering in real time. That's funny, real funny. But yet I'm the one that is wrong, because I choose not to listen to someone say how old an object is when all they have for evidence is a couple 20 minute recordings from a telescope. Lets cross out the periodic table unknowns while we are at it!
     
  22. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 11,702   +1,886

    Well, pardon my cynicism but, the whole thing kind of smacks of an effort to assist with continued and/or increased funding. The SETI radio telescope search has turned up zip in decades of trying. Backers for that project have to be looking at it as a money pit. BUT, if they suddenly got a "message from an alien intelligence", that would be a great wallet opening breakthrough!
     
  23. yRaz

    yRaz TS Evangelist Posts: 1,906   +954

    Stars don't flicker. I'm not saying that there are aliens around that star, I'm saying the science of star formation and our understanding of them is solid. You'd be amazed of the information we can get out of a "picture". This is far from a couple 20 minute recordings, They have a telescope in space pointed at this area in the sky every minute of everyday and they've been recording that area for years now. It's not like a twinkle you get on the ground where the atmosphere distorts the image, this is a phenomena which we have measured with incredible accuracy repeatedly. It is abundantly apparent that you lack a fundamental understanding of the science behind this.
     
    Silvernine and ThanosPAS like this.
  24. H3llion

    H3llion TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,260   +223

    This discussion is hilarious. Science is at a constant evolution, information changes all the time.
     
  25. H3llion

    H3llion TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,260   +223

    I understand where you are coming from (you can't test something properly until you actually see it in-front of your eyes). Have you committed decades researching and analyzing the Cosmos? It seems you know more than the ones within the trade.

    It's like saying we can't prove the age of our Earth and other variables because we were not there to experience It.

    Research, it's your key. Mathematics and other ways of measurements can be very can do a lot of wonders.

    Edit:

    Did the other guy remove his comments?
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2015
    Silvernine likes this.

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