The star KIC 8462852, which was some time back pegged as a star surrounded by alien megastructures, hasn’t stopped confusing astronomers even after months of research.
KIC 8462852 came into the limelight last year when astronomers claimed that they had discovered a star in the constellation Cygnus that showed an unusual and sporadic dimming – something that can’t be explained through natural phenomena. Multiple theories to explain this dimming came up with some as bizarre as alien-megastructures surrounding the star to natural causes such as comets being drawn towards the star due to its gravity.
While astronomers are still chasing for answers, a new study has further deepened the mystery. According to a new study by researchers at Carnegie Institution in Washington DC, US, based on observations made by Kepler space telescope the star KIC 8462852 has actually been fading over the course of last four years. The sporadic dimming is one mystery, but the constant fading over the period of last four years is even more baffling. The study is published in The Astrophysical Journal.
If we look for natural causes, stars may appear to be dimming when solid solid objects such as planets or dust clouds pass in front of them when it is being observed by us through space telescope. However, the erratic dimming is something that hasn’t been observed ever. According to detailed investigation by astronomers at the Institute, the star had dimmed by 2 per cent in just six months while being watched by Kepler and this according to astronomers is very surprising as well as astounding.
Four years of observations through Kepler indicate that the star is constantly dimming and that it is getting fainter as time passes by. What the researchers at Carnegie believe is that there may have been a collision of planets or breaking up of a planet that has resulted into an immense cloud of gas and dust and this is blocking the star’s light over the last four years causing its light to dim.
However, the team is also stating that their account won’t help explain the long-term dimming that has been observed by Kepler in the first three years of the star’s observation as well as what was suggested by measurements dating back to the 19th century.