Published: 12:49 AM 10/31/2015
KIC 8462852 can be observed about 1,500 light-years from Earth...
By Darwin Malicdem
Astronomers around the world are currently working to solve the mystery of an extraterrestrial megastructure surrounding a giant star in the Milky Way galaxy, which is thought to be some type of an old alien civilisation. However, some experts claim that they are close to unfold the mystery and to specifically identify the structure.
Astronomers are keeping their attention on the star, called KIC 8462852, which has been observed with unusual dimming events over the past few years. The star tends to dramatically drop its brightness by nearly 22 per cent in each event.
To date, astronomers are waiting for KIC 8462852 to dim again, and various telescopes are pointed to the star to observe its future dimming event. The observation will allow experts to test the hypothesis of the presence of the “alien megastructure.”
"As long as one of those events occurs again, we should be able to catch it in the act, and then we'll definitely be able to figure out what we're seeing," Jason Wright, an astronomer at Pennsylvania State University, told Space.com. Astronomers will be looking at different wavelengths of light from the star to identify the object.
KIC 8462852 can be observed about 1,500 light-years from Earth. The first dimming of the star was observed by the Kepler space telescope of the NASA between 2009 and 2013.
Many astronomers first believed that the dimming events were caused by an orbiting planet, while some say that a planet-forming disk is passing in front of the star that blocks the light to the detectors of Kepler. However, KIC 8462852 was described as a mature star capable to have only fully formed planet, according to Space.com.
Radio telescopes were also aimed at KIC 8462852 to try capturing signals that may be delivered by alien technologies, experts said. Wright said that the structure causing the dimming could be an ordinary astrophysical dust or a gas.
"The amount of dimming we get tells us something about the size of the dust — is it as fine as smoke, or is it pebbles and things?" Wright stated. But if the structure appears to be a dust, it would then open another mystery, he added. Astronomers would start asking about the source of all that dust surrounding the star.
However, Wright is also considering that the megastructure could be a solid object. "If we see any colour dependence in the dimming — if it gets dimmer in the ultraviolet than it does in the infrared, for instance — then that would rule out that whatever we're looking at is a solid object," Wright said.
If a dimming event occurs, it would lead astronomers to figure out which of these scenarios could identify the megastructure.