KIC 8462852, aka Tabby’s star located 1,480 light years away from us, has puzzled astronomers with its erratic dimming, a dimming pattern never seen before — more than 20% of its light was being blocked out by something!
A planet the size of Jupiter would only cause dimming of approximately 1%, so it can’t be a planet. Several hypotheses were formulated by astronomers, but the most plausible explanation is that a messy family of comets is blocking the light. Though, many leading scientists still reject this theory, some even speculate that the dimming could be caused by some kind of alien-made, artificial structure (a massive Dyson sphere), orbiting and periodically eclipsing the star. So, to unravel the mystery, SETI International focused on the particularly star, evaluating that possibility.
Therefore, on six consecutive nights between October 29 and November 28, 2015 at the Boquete Optical SETI Observatory in Panama, SETTI’ astronomers looked for nanosecond pulses signals — tiny pulses as short as a billionth of a billionth of a second.
Any extraterrestrial laser pulses that were beamed towards Earth would have been detected if they fell into the visible spectrum and above the observatory’s minimum detection limit.
The hypothesis of an alien megastructure around KIC 8462852 is rapidly crumbling apart. We found no evidence of an advanced civilization beaming intentional laser signals toward Earth.
said Douglas Vakoch ~ lead author of the new study submitted to the Astrophysical Journal Letters.
Due to how far away from Earth star KIC 8462852 is, different detection methods are needed in order to catch any laser pulses.
Given the large distance to KIC 8462852, nearly 1500 light-years, any signal received on Earth today would have left the star shortly after the fall of the Roman Empire,
said Marlin Schuetz, one of the paper’s authors.
We could have detected even laser pulses that had made such a long journey. Unfortunately, they just weren’t there.
Meanwhile, another search of the star also came up empty. The SETI Institute used Allen Telescope Array to listen in to the star for more than two weeks. They detected no sign of alien signals between 1 and 10 GHz.
The history of astronomy tells us that every time we thought we had found a phenomenon due to the activities of extraterrestrials, we were wrong,
said SETI Institute astronomer Seth Shostak.
But although it’s quite likely this star’s strange behavior is due to nature, not aliens, it’s only prudent to check such things out.
So, the hypothesis of that the stars being orbited by a swarm of cometary fragments is still held up. After all, maybe there’s a natural explanation, who knows. But for sure, we should get a closer look at this thing. Maybe the next year, as the Green Bank radio telescope will turn its very large ear toward the mysterious star.
If some day we really detect a signal from an extraterrestrial civilization, we need to be ready to follow up at observatories around the world, as quickly as possible,