No, an Alien Megastructure Isn't Causing Tabby's Star to Dim

Flickr / Kevin M. Gill

Tabby’s Star is not being influenced by aliens — intelligent or otherwise. Disappointing as that may be for some, it’s better to get that out of the way right off the bat.

Though we all knew this — or at least I hope we did — scientists have officially confirmed this fact.

In a new study published Tuesday in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, scientists studying KIC 8462852 — also known as Boyajian’s Star or Tabby’s Star — detail how public crowdfunding efforts allowed them to collect an unprecedented amount of data on the star, which has infamously dipped dramatically in brightness a twice over the last few years.

People drawn to the mystery of Tabby’s star — 1,700, to be exact — donated over $100,000 through a Kickstarter campaign to help scientists secure ground-based telescope time to get more information on Tabby’s Star. As a result, Tabetha Suzanne Boyajian — the astrophysicist for whom the star is named after — and a team of over 200 researchers were able to analyze that data and parse out some clues about KIC 8462852. Those clues don’t point to aliens, but they’re important for astronomers nonetheless.

“If it wasn’t for people with an unbiased look on our universe, this unusual star would have been overlooked,” Boyajian says in a statement. “Again, without the public support for this dedicated observing run, we would not have this large amount of data.”

Artist's rendition of Tabby's Star


Though they’ve said it before, the researchers are now even more convinced that the star’s unusual dips in brightness are caused by dust. Not dust-aliens — just dust.

“Dust is most likely the reason why the star’s light appears to dim and brighten,” Boyajian says. “The new data shows that different colors of light are being blocked at different intensities. Therefore, whatever is passing between us and the star is not opaque, as would be expected from a planet or alien megastructure.”

For the last time, Tabby’s Star is not being controlled by aliens. Yes, it would be fun, and yes it would be a break from the monotony of our Earthly existences, but we just can’t believe that anymore.

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