back to article Second 'dimmer switch' star spotted

One curious case of “what's that?” in astronomy is a puzzle: two gets astrophysicists on the way to an answer. An oddly-dimming star called EPIC 204278916 (EPIC in this article) might help boffins understand the “Dyson sphere” (no, it's not) Tabby's star. The group led by Simone Scaringi from the Max Planck Institute for …

  1. Mark 85 Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    I had to Google this: planetesimal. Learn something new everyday around here.

    Too bad it's not a Dyson Sphere, it might make the tin-foil hatters add another layer of tinfoil. Maybe I need to buy stock in a tinfoil company just in case.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It seems "Maybe an alien megastruture" is now in the list of politically correct unsayables (like, and I am totally making things up now, "Trump is not wrong", "Mabye blacks have police problems for a reason" or "Maybe Israel is kinda fascist") One immediately has to declare self-disgust at even have been forced to utter the words, state that anyone delecting in this kind of crimethink is a nutter and make references to tinfoil. And one may still get invited to a ritual disemboweling on CNN.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        I don't see why you're keeping things from us. This goes far deeper than you've hinted at. Admit it, you're thinking the two stars are connected by a wormhole.

        1. Christoph Silver badge

          If they're building a Dyson Sphere, that's fine.

          If they're building a Nicoll-Dyson Laser, panic now!

      2. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        There's nothing politically incorrect about anything you listed except "Maybe Israel is kinda fascist". Everything else is simply incorrect. Politics don't enter into it.

        As for the Israel thing, well, Israel is run by horrible people who do horrible things. But "fascism" isn't the correct term. They're their own thing. And yes, I don't understand why it's politically incorrect to say "well, shit, the way Israel's government responds to pretty much everything - both internally and externally - is awful, and a lot of their problems would solvable if they weren't arrogant, xenophobic, nationalistic, control freaks."

        Somehow, saying the Israeli government is peopled by monsters is immediately a condemnation of all Israelis or even all Jews (Israeli or not). I don't get how that works, but apparently it's a thing.

        The rest of your issues, however, are just wrong. Way before politics gets involved.

  2. Blofeld's Cat

    So ...

    "... watching the early business of planet formation ..."

    Presumably the next stage is to look out for the spontaneous formation and demise of an innocent sperm whale and a bowl of petunias.

    1. Oengus

      Re: So ...

      Oh no. Not again!

      1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

        Good news then

        Means the galactic economy is picking up.

        The tourists should be arriving any day now. Time to start learning how to make a really good Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster.

  3. Winkypop Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Who needs religion?

    The universe is both strange and beautiful at the same time.

    Celebrate what we know and what we are yet to know.

    1. codemonkey

      Re: Who needs religion?

      I think you missed the word "think" in that lovely sentence.

    2. Scroticus Canis

      Re: Who needs religion?

      We are star dust, as is our world.

      I still find that pretty amazing even so.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Big telescopes should be monitoring the frequency domain

    Every cluster of pixels should be monitored in the frequency domain.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Obvious is obvious

    these planets are just outside the Duracell zone.

  6. Mage Silver badge

    watching the early business of planet formation

    If you are nearly immortal, as it takes about a million years for much of a change?

    More a snapshot of a particular early stage?

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: watching the early business of planet formation

      Yep. And then if we're lucky, we might be able to accumulate snapshots of other stages of planetary formation around a number of similar stars.

  7. imanidiot Silver badge


    In terms of interplanetary observation a lot of cool things are happening. We are in a time when science and technology have allowed the construction of telescopes with previously unimaginable clarity and sensitivity. And given whats on the books things could get even more interesting.

  8. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

    I'm not saying it is a Dyson Sphere, it almost certainly is not, but I don't see why it only partially dimming prevents it from being one? Perhaps the civilisation only needs that much power? Maybe they're working on it but it's not finished? Maybe they ran our of economically viable material to make it with?

  9. Dave Lawton

    Ringworld 'Under Construction'

    As title.

    Yes, I know it's unstable :)

  10. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

    This was good science journalism. I felt I got the essentials without needing to read the paper myself.

  11. Stoneshop Silver badge

    Star Constructors, Inc.

    There's probably some outfit similar to Magrathea, but dealing in stars, not planets.

    And they're clearly sourcing electrical kit from Lucas.

  12. You aint sin me, roit

    It's Trump's Dyson Sphere

    "We're going to build a Dyson Sphere and MorningLightMountain is going to pay for it. Yes he is."

  13. IT Poser

    I for one am convinced it is not alien megastructures

    The obvious explanation is thousands of alien kilostructures.

  14. Axman

    I don't get the enthusiasm. What's so exciting/unique/questionable/gripping/enigmatic about a very young star being partially eclipsed by a bunch of amorphous matter in an unpredictable pattern. S'bleedin' obvious that that's what some suns will look like in the early stages of planetary formation, shirley?

  15. Chris 239

    Somewhere a monastery has completed writing down the names for God!

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