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Astronomers May Have Found a ‘Swarm of Megastructures’ Orbiting a Distant Star. No, Really.

Astronomers May Have Found a ‘Swarm of Megastructures’ Orbiting a Distant Star. No, Really.: A NASA artist's rendering of the Kepler Telescope.

A NASA artist's rendering of the Kepler Telescope.

A star (KIC 8462852) that was monitored for four years by NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope is causing a stir among astronomers. That’s because it’s being orbited by strange objects that at least one astronomer believes could be a “swarm of [alien] megastructures.”

“Aliens should always be the very last hypothesis you consider,” said Penn State astronomer Jason Wright. “But this looked like something you would expect an alien civilization to build.”

Tabetha Boyajian, a postdoc at Yale, recently published a paper which tried to determine natural causes for the strange objects.

“We’d never seen anything like this star,” said Boyajian. "It was really weird. We thought it might be bad data or movement on the spacecraft, but everything checked out.”

Despite a laundry list of possibilities, Boyajian’s paper found only one plausible explanation involving a second star passing through the system and pulling in a large group of comets. But even this explanation involves a major coincidence, given the fact that gravitational forces would eventually pull the comets into the sun. For this scenario to work, it means the Kepler would have been looking at the star at exactly the right moment (relatively speaking) to have witnessed the objects.

Currently, both Boyajian and Wright are working on a proposal with the Director of the SETI Research Center, Andrew Siemion. If things go according to plan, massive earth-based radio dishes will begin monitoring the star for signs of alien technology as early as this January.

Normally when you read about this sort of thing on the Internet, the data is coming from a professor at the Online Handjob University of Southern Moldova, which happens to be my Alma mater (Go Brown Bears!). So it’s worth noting that the scientists quoted in this post are from respected schools, and they were originally interviewed by The Atlantic, not The Daily Mail.

(Source: The Atlantic)

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