Sexually Delinquent, Permanently Sleepless
- Dec 26, 2015
- land of pollen and roadkill
TLDR: Weird big star does weird stuff, might be a new, undiscovered astronomical thing (like Pulsars) or could be a sign of Baya's people siphong off celestial waves to power their hyperdrives and microwaves to re-heat their totinos. Just a thing. here is it.Early Thursday morning, a new and powerful effort was underway to explore a mystery 1,500 light-years away. West Virginia’s Green Bank Telescope was hard at work, sucking up information about a strange winking star.
Last year, scientists led by Louisiana State University astronomer Tabetha S. Boyajian published a lightning rod of a study: Observations taken from the Kepler spacecraft revealed that KIC 8462852, also known as Tabby’s Star after Boyajian, did not behave like other stars.
Specifically, Tabby’s Star flickered.
The star’s flux — its brightness — dipped by as much as a fifth over the course of Kepler’s observations, The Washington Post reported last October. By way of comparison, should a planet as huge as Jupiter swoop in front of KIC 8462852, in a move known as a transit, such a gas-giant-size journey would dim the star only by 1 percent. (Tabby’s Star is also known as the WTF Star — for Where’s the Flux. Though, we suspect the abbreviation could stand for something else too.)
What’s more, the extreme dimming did not follow a constant pattern. The dips varied in duration, as though the star were blinking fast and slow. For a star of its size and age, this was unprecedented behavior.
If you are familiar with what happens when a space-science mystery meets an unprecedented observation, you might be able to guess where speculation went. Even some astronomers, meticulous by profession, were not afraid to float the a-word: Could the dimming, however unlikely, be signs of alien life?