A faraway star has been getting significant attention from astronomers, mostly because they believe that they have spotted signs of alien life there. The star, which has been named KIC 8462852, was spotted for the first time through a Yale University citizen science program called Planet Hunters.
Using data offered by the Kepler Space Telescope, volunteers set out to search for evidence of a notable drop in light because of the orbiting exoplanets crossing their parent stars.
The star KIC 8462852 is located as many as 1,481 light years away from our home planet Earth. For those who don’t know: the unit light year is used for measuring astronomical distance covered by light in a year; 1 light year is equal to 5.8 trillion miles.
Tabetha Boyajian, an astronomer representing the Yale University and the writer of the paper on KIC 8462852 that was published in the journal Monthly Notes of the Royal Astronomical Society, said that she got attracted to the star by its flickering behavior.
She forwarded the collected data to astronomer Jason Wright of Penn State University. Wright is known for his research on the ongoing search for celestial intelligence.
The data forwarded by Boyajian impressed Wright. He got attracted to the matter as the light curve appeared significantly bizarre to him. He was particularly surprised to find that the light curve becomes dimmer and remains so for several days at a time. Wright said that neither he nor any of his colleagues had ever seen anything like that before.
According to Wright, young stars often showcase such behavior, and there are explanations for that. Young stars can flicker when something lands on them, or a disc-like object pass in front of them.
However, what has left astronomers surprised is that KIC 8462852 is not a young star. Wright said that the star didn’t demonstrate any sign of being young. So, scientists are now in search of other factors that can lead to the star’s flickering behavior.
One possibility scientists are currently considering is that the flickering might be a sign of alien life. According to them, the star flickers when swarms of megastructures constructed by the aliens pass through its front.