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CosmosUp | November 24, 2017

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T. Boyajian Just Answered Common Questions About KIC 8462852

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Yesterday, Dr. Tabetha Boyajian and Professor Jason Wright have participated in a Reddit AMA (ask me anything) to answer any and all questions regarding the “most controversial star in our Galaxy” KIC 8462852.

Last year, the media gone crazy about the potential so-called “alien megastructure” around KIC 8462852, also known as Tabby’s star (after lead author Tabetha S. Boyajian) or the WTF star (for “Where’s The Flux?”), a F-type main-sequence star, much like our sun, located in the constellation Cygnus approximately 1,480 light years away from Earth.

KIC 8462852 has quickly become one of the biggest astronomical mysteries due to its unusual light fluctuations, it occasionally dims by as much as 20%, suggesting that there is some material in orbit around this star that blocks its light — this surprising behavior is odd even by the generous standards of cosmic phenomena.

Explanations for the star’s unruly behavior ranged from a swarm of comets, gravity darkening to alien megastructures. But most of the hypothesis were ruled out by scientists.

We’d never seen anything like this star,

says Tabetha Boyajian, a postdoc at Yale.

It was really weird. We thought it might be bad data or movement on the spacecraft, but everything checked out.

There’s no doubt KIC 8462852 is behaving strangely, so something must be responsible,

Bradley Schaefer of Louisiana State University said.

Either one of our refutations has some hidden loophole, or some theorist needs to come up with some other proposal.

so the question is what is happening? When will we have an answer? Here’s the most common question about KIC 8462852 answered by T. Boyajian and Prof. J. Wright.

Things to know about KIC 8462852 since its discovery

The most common questions About KIC 8462852

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  1. Michael

    Is there any possibility of it been a planet with moons undergoing tidal and radiation disruptions? If you use a 24.175 day period or there abouts the events lie 2 to 5 days apart. If the planet is in highly eccentric orbit with a apehelion transit the dips could be in days due to the slower velocity. The planet itself does not transit directly only the ring of material in temperary orbit, the moons disrupt the cloud structure that is emitted causing the strange light curve. Each dip is the clump of material occulting the star but in orbit around the planet. Although there was no IR excess there was a 2.6 sigma event at around 4.5 micron, this is close to a CO emission line.


  2. Michael

    Apologies is was in fact 2.4 sigma not 2.6 sigma.

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