Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Happy New Year! Update On The Mysterious Alien Structure Orbiting KIC 8462852

The mystery has been cracked! The mysterious massive object orbiting the star, KIC 8462852, is in fact (drumroll please) DUST! However it's not just any old type of's alien dust.

Astronomer Tabetha Boyajian launched a Kickstarter campaign that raised more than $100,000 to acquire ground-based instruments for investigating the star. Her goal was to view the star the moment the dimming was taking place to get a better look at what might be blocking the star's light. It turns out the dimming was caused by dust with unfamiliar characteristics. The dust produces dips of varying intensity and timing as well as no indications of the dust being warm. This means it must be very far away from the star. The dust grains are also incredibly small, much smaller than those in cigarette smoke, yet the grains are not being blown away by the star’s light. This could mean there is probably some reservoir from which the dust is continually replenished. Perhaps something catastrophic happened near the star or is still taking place. Of course these are all just guesses based on what is being observed. It's an on-going study and a very exciting discovery!