It would be the sensation of course par excellence, the space telescope Kepler had discovered an alien civilization. Probably there is however a less spectacular explanation for the bizarre fluctuations in brightness on the 1500 light-years distant star. But even astronomers are so far at a loss.
Extraterrestrial Civilization in Kepler 452-b require additional telescope
We will probably wait till January 2016 strong radio antennas KIC 8462852 and his mysterious structures in the visor will confirm. Until then, it may be speculated what the brightness fluctuations are justified.
The Kepler space telescope had observed the star as one of about 150,000 over four years. When evaluating the data, amateur astronomers then made an unusual discovery, which is so far can’t explain also the scientists.
Program Planet-Hunter: Amateur astronomers observe light pattern of stars
Not for the first time, the U.S. space telescope Kepler has made an exciting discovery. Kepler was launched in 2009 and watched a solid snippet from more than 150,000 stars. Although the main mission was discontinued in August 2013, but astronomers still evaluate the enormous amount of data.
Considered most important discoveries so far, several Earth-like planets fell into the visor of the researchers. Then, it was even more spectacular than “Kepler 452-b“, which is even in the theoretical habitable zone to the next Sun with seasons, oceans and mountains.
Now it could be but really exciting, because of nearly 1500 light-years away KIC 8462852, who is hotter and larger than our Sun, raises different questions as to the livability for people. 2011 amateur astronomers who were active in the program Planet-Hunter found first evidence of the unusual fluctuations in brightness of the star.
Planet-Hunter was founded by the Kepler astronomers because they hoped-for support in dealing with the flood of data of private astronomers, who have often very thoughtfully. In particular the patterns of light emitted by the stars were interesting.
Eliminated explanations like extrasolar planet or asteroid belt
The unusual light patterns of KIC 8462852 suggests that a large amount of matter orbiting the star. An extrasolar planet will not be there, because the brightness of the star not varies periodically, how would suggest if an extrasolar planet in regular orbit would orbit the star. Also, the brightness changes are very different between 15% and 22%, which also speaks against an extrasolar planet.
The other explanation that it could be remnants of collisions with other planets or an asteroid belt, is also eliminated. For this, the star should be young, which is not the case with KIC 8462852. At his age, gravity would have formed long ago other celestial bodies from the material orbiting it. Also an additional infrared radiation would be been by strong heating of dust expected but not found.
“Alien should be always the last hypothesis”
Tabetha Boyaijan, scientifically accompanied the program Planet Hunter, has now published the collected explanations for the unresolved issues related to the brightness fluctuations. Error of measurement excludes the astronomer and proposes a fault in the system through a close run Star as the most likely explanation. The scientist is not safe but that she would consider other scenarios.
Her colleague Jason Wright of Penn State University is there less careful. He could imagine that fit the brightness fluctuations to a swarm of giant mega-structures, which use their energy for an alien civilization such as solar collectors orbiting the distant Sun. “Aliens should be always the last hypothesis, you tried, but this looks like something that you’d expect from an alien civilization,” Wright told the Atlantic magazine.
Observation center with gigantic radio telescope is under revision
Now, Wright and Boyaijan want to try to align radio antennas on the star, steal him with his secret. If they find radio waves at a frequency range, can be associated with technological activities, the next step would be.
He would follow in January 2016 and an observation with the giant radio telescope very mean large array (VLA) in New Mexico, United States. “If we find something really exciting before, but we would the Director of VLA ask, whether he gives us an opportunity for an observation out of turn”, said Boyaijan.