In 2015 KIC 8462852, otherwise known as Tabby’s star or the WTF star, made headlines around the world with the postulation that a strange detected dimming of the star may be the result of an “alien mega-structure” orbiting the star. A theory quickly came to the fore, that comets were more likely the cause then alien technology. Now the mystery has returned with Professor Bradley Schaefer of Louisiana State University stating the comet explanation is “…completely implausible…”
KIC 8462852 is a large star that lies about 1,500 light-years from Earth. It dips in brightness at irregular intervals by up to 20%. If you missed original the breaking news in 2015 on KIC 8462852, astronomer Tabatha Boyajian gave an account of the discovery of the star at a TED talk and how discoveries like KIC 8462852 can quickly capture the imagination.
A study by Professor of Astronomy Bradley Schaefer suggests century-long dimming which is unprecedented for that type of star. In his yet to be peer reviewed paper, Schaefer believes it would take about “…648,000 giant comets…each with 200 km diameter…” to create the dimming effect, a theory which he believes isn’t plausible.
No other suggestions have come forward to provide an adequate, widely accepted explanation. No planet big enough has ever been discovered. Another star causing the effect would have shown itself and clouds of dust don’t quite fit the bill either as no indicator of the right kind of dust grains can be detected. After the first speculation of an alien mega-structure, SETI pointed their Allen Array telescopes at KIC 8462852 listening for alien messages and signals but found nothing.
For now, the mystery of KIC 8462852 continues unless of course its the First Order hiding another Starkiller base.