back to article 'Alien megastructure' Tabby's Star: Light is definitely dimming

We might have thought that the long-term dimming of “alien megastructure” star, Tabby's Star, had been put to rest as a calibration error, but boffins now reckon its mysterious dimming can be seen in Kepler data. That, the boffins who checked back four years' worth of observations from the Kepler mission, puts the dimming of …

Re: Stars are mostly big burny things right?

"Not to mention that 0.3% dimming every year doesn't at all match phases that have time scales of millions of years."

Exactly. It doesn't match ANYTHING that we know about the physics of stars or their burnout. Someone mentioned the Drake equation, and that the odds of observing a civilization in realtime would be near zero. IMHO, this is no longer true. It could be that these "star dimming" things happen all of the time, but we never before had the computer power or observational equipment to detect them in real time. Think about supernovas... it use to be weeks/months/years before someone noticed a star going supernova. Now, we sometimes detect these things WITHIN HOURS/DAYS. Drake fail.

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ALIENS!

It's just part of the narrative that despite there being NO scientific evidence WHAT SO EVER for extra terrestrial life, intelligent or otherwise, we are of course about to discover it.

Out of the untold trillions of stars out there, one flickers in a way we have not yet observed....So it must be a Dyson Sphere....HAH! As if! Get real.

Not even a scrap of lichen clinging to life on the back of a rock on Mars.

Total electromagnetic silence in space apart from the clicking of quasars and the humming of stars.

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Re: ALIENS!

This is now a "narrative"?

Go back to the US-internal political bickering, please.

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Re: ALIENS!

Total electromagnetic silence in space apart from the clicking of quasars and the humming of stars.

Pretty much. If an alien civilisation follows the pattern of humanity in its technological progression (and there's no real reason why we're not pretty average and statistically we'd have to meet quite a few alien life forms to work out what may be a fair average) from the discovery of radio to primitive spaceflight and computers then there is only a very, very small time window that an alien civilisation will be recklessly broadcasting to the universe.

During this time window the relative power of the broadcasts will be pretty low and therefore should an observer happen to be watching at the appropriate time, the detection of the signals will be very, very hard due to their low power. After this window then efficiencies in broadcast techniques tend to make the wasteage considerably lower even as the effectiveness goes up - this is down to narrower bands and directional communications which overall require somewhat less power. We're probably not quite at the "quiet" stage of our galactic EM emission development but we're fairly close.

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Re: ALIENS!

>Out of the untold trillions of stars out there, one flickers in a way we have not yet observed....So it must be a Dyson Sphere....HAH! As if! Get real.

You have so missed the point. Astronomers don't believe there is a Dyson Sphere, and they know that their colleagues don't believe so, either. Therefore, their use of the Dyson Sphere concept is just a fun way of signposting to their community that they have some interesting unexplained data on their hands.

Just to make things clear to you: Jocelyn Grace Bell didn't really believe that there were Little Green Men sending messages when she recorded the signals that lead to the discovery of pulsars, even though she joked that the alien buggers were sending signals purely to mess her PhD research up.

RAF technicians never really believed in Gremlins. It was a joke.

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Re: ALIENS!

"This is now a "narrative"?

Go back to the US-internal political bickering, please."

The world is run on ideology based narratives, in case you hadn't noticed.

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Re: ALIENS!

>there's no real reason why we're not pretty average

We (21st century humanity) aren't even average humans. For most of our existence, we've barely made the sound of two rocks banging together. In 100 years we might be emitting nothing more than an encrypted barrage of light waves, having abandoned radio entirely. In a 1000 years?, 10,000?

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Re: ALIENS!

You have so missed the point. Astronomers don't believe there is a Dyson Sphere, and they know that their colleagues don't believe so, either.

Then suddenly there is a Dyson Sphere and everyone will be shitting bricks while placing a call to the POTofthefreeworld.

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Pandora's star

Erecting the shield to contain the Prime civilization around Dyson Alpha is taking longer then usual. Probably unionized contractors at work.

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Re: Pandora's star

From now on, all Dyson Sphere workers must be ionized.

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Re: Pandora's star

"From now on, all Dyson Sphere workers must be ionized."

I was going to ask what the charge would be, but so far it's all positive. Well done, sir!

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0.341 percent less each year

This sheds a new light on cosmic inflation.

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Secureteam10

That young, excitable chap from secureteam10 will love this. Aliens: confirmed.

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Alien

Rising energy prices

They aliens just can't put the 50p coins in the meter fast enough any more

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Blackhole?

I'd guess they'd see the wavelengths it outputs, but if it was a binary system who's partner collapsed (or it's galactic path run it into a pothole) it could be a blackhole slowly sucking the life out of it, causing it to dim?

(though I guess that doesn't account for the dramatic dip, possibly oribted closer, so rate of decay increased?)

Either that or Galactus having a snack...

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Re: Blackhole?

it could be a blackhole slowly sucking the life out of it, causing it to dim?

The accretion disk around either a black hole or a neutron star would probably be very noticeable. We've seen plenty of examples, so while a new configuration isn't impossible it's very unlikely that the astronomers involved haven't already looked into the possibility.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Blackhole?

> it could be a blackhole slowly sucking the life out of it, causing it to dim?

Sounds like my ex-wife!

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Childcatcher

alien life ... obviously

Well not obviously in any way... but this would be the way we will first meet aliens, not because they found our probes with the weird crosswords (all that stuff printed that the average human couldn't figure out let alone a non-human).

We'll find an anomaly and gradually we will realise it is not naturally occurring ... we'll do little probes and over some time there will be theories that it is made by intelligent life.

definitely not some reck neck getting and anal probe in the woods :)

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Alien

Cricket

Some of the peoples of Earth indulge in the game of cricket. As you will know, this game formed from the inherited consciousness of millennia long past, recalling the events of the Krikkit Wars. When the violent and warlike Krikkiters were finally defeated, it was decided to seal the planet Krikkit away within a Slo-Time Envelope so that the Krikkiters would no longer be a nuisance.

http://hitchhikers.wikia.com/wiki/Krikkit

Perhaps a similar thing is going on here?

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Mushroom

Obiwan Hawkings: "That's no star. It's a space station." Alan Guth: "It's too big to be a space station." Michio Kaku: "I have a very bad feeling about this."

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OCP

Obligatory Banks (damn, I miss him) quote:

Outside Context Problem (OCP), the kind of problem "most civilizations would encounter just once, and which they tended to encounter rather in the same way a sentence encountered a full stop."

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Coat

Photino birds

Time to evacuate the universe.

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Trollface

Re: Photino birds

...but... but... but... it's already full of vacuum!

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Starkiller Base

Haven't these people seen The Force Awakens? Obviously the star is dimming because it is being sucked dry to power a fearsome, planet destroying superweapon. Unfortunately we probably don't have a telescope powerful enough to see the disappearing planets the weapon is being used against, so I guess we'll just have to figure out how to detect disturbances in the Force to confirm the theory.

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Re: Starkiller Base

So because of light travel time and all that,

This all happened a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away then?

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or perhaps

someone's Starkiller Base has a really slow charge rate.

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Re: or perhaps

Snap.

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Actually, the solar system is a zoo. All the "stars" we see are windows just outside the orbit of Pluto, made to seem as though they're farther away.

We're not a popular attraction.

The dimming we see is a kindergarten field trip, as the bored children file past the window and look at the animals just sitting on one planet and not doing anything.

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Shouldn't we also see increasing IR output?

If something is blocking the star's light, whether it is alien megastructures or something natural, that energy doesn't go away. The dimming light should be accompanied with an approximately equal increase in infrared output coming from whatever absorbed the star's light.

The only way to avoid that would be if the energy was being directed/reflected away from our view (which would be a lot less likely to be natural) or caused to disappear entirely - i.e. if the aliens building a Dyson sphere also built themselves a small black hole on the inside to act as a heatsink to avoid telltale IR emissions that would give them away to wandering Berzerkers.

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Re: Shouldn't we also see increasing IR output?

Not necessarily - KIC 8462852 is 1400 light years away, while stars showing excess IR from debris disks like Beta Pictoris and 51 Ophiuchi are closer. At 410 light-years, it's challenging to spot 51 Ophiuchi's protoplanetary disk. A star-hugging structure at KIC 8462852 that hasn't received the attention of a powerful interferometer won't be noticeable.

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Re: Shouldn't we also see increasing IR output?

Not if the star's light isn't blocked, maybe the star itself dims, for whatever reason?

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Re: Shouldn't we also see increasing IR output?

Yes, it is possible the star itself is dimming as observed, but that would be new phenomena that hasn't been observed on any other star out of the many many many stars we have looked at. For astronomers, that would be as interesting as an alien megastructure as an explanation, because it would be something new for them to investigate.

And I suppose finding the star itself was dimming wouldn't rule out aliens as the cause. Hypothetically, if you wanted to destroy another civilization (that you are at war with, or because you're a race of Trumps who afraid of anyone different than you) if you could do something to cause its star to dim that would be pretty effective.

Or heck, maybe they have runaway global warming and they did it themselves - their solution was to compensate for a heating planet by dimming their star a few percent...

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Mushroom

Best keep an eye on it

Monopathic Hegemonizing Events are not to be trifled with.

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Angel

Nah someone is building a hyper spatial bypass

We just haven't checked our local galactic planning office.

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Building a barrier around an entire star?

Who knew aliens had Trump too.

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Running out of fission stuff?

I have a similar experience every time my BarBQ runs low on propane, it ||: flickers, flares :||, ad nauseum, finally emits a quiet "pop" and dies. In this case it might take a billion US Years (USY).

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It's the Quagaars!

Or a garbage pod. A smegging garbage pod!

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