Why Scientists Are Speculating About ‘Alien Superstructures’ Around an Irregular Star

We want to believe.

We may have neighbors — extraterrestrial neighbors.


Look between the constellations Cygnus and Lyra, and there sits a star, around 1,481 light-years away, named KIC 8462852. This star is the most interesting thing in the galaxy right now. Scientists have been noticing a mess of objects circling this thing, because it's been giving off unusual light fluctuations, unusual enough to be under consideration for one of the supercivilizations astronomer Jason Wright and his team have been looking for.

The Kepler Space Telescope has been collecting data, looking at light emissions from various stars, trying to find signs of life. However, the algorithm has trouble recognizing patterns that might qualify a star as part of an advanced civilization — sifting through this data requires a human touch (aka advanced pattern recognition). So, the citizen-scientist program “Planet Hunters” was founded.

Back in 2011, several of these scientists flagged this particular star as “interesting” and “bizarre.” Researchers were intrigued.

“We’d never seen anything like this star," Tabetha Boyajian, a postdoc at Yale who oversees the Planet Hunters, said in an interview with The Atlantic. "It was really weird. We thought it might be bad data or movement on the spacecraft, but everything checked out.”

The light pattern suggests there's a big mess of stuff circling the star. If the star were young, it would be expected to have a circle of debris surrounding it. But this is a mature star, so could scientist be seeing solar panels created by a Type 3 civilization to harness its energy?

Michio Kaku breaks down Type 1, Type 2, and Type 3 civilizations.

Change.org
Politics & Current Affairs
  • The tongue-in-cheek petition, whose stated aim is to reduce the national debt, has been signed more than 8,600 times as of Tuesday.
  • Selling Montana, the fourth largest state in the country, would constitute the largest land deal since the Louisiana Purchase.
  • The national debt is often a source of concern for individuals, but the chances of the U.S. defaulting on its debts are relatively low — in part because the bulk of the national debt is owned by the American public.
Keep reading Show less

Study: Memories of music cannot be lost to Alzheimer's and dementia

The part of your brain responsible for ASMR catalogs music, and appears to be a stronghold against Alzheimer's and dementia.

The parts of the brain highlighted in red and yellow are thought to control your sense of attention and memory. (image c/o Brain Network Lab)
popular

Some music inspires you to move your feet, some inspires you to get out there and change the world. In any case, and to move hurriedly on to the point of this article, it's fair to say that music moves people in special ways. 

Keep reading Show less

What makes someone gay? Science is trying to get it straight.

Evolutionarily speaking, being gay is still something of an enigma

Videos
  • Heterosexual people have been less interesting to scientists than gay people, in terms of where they come from, because, evolutionarily speaking, being gay doesn't lead to a higher "higher reproductive fitness" — meaning, it doesn't lead to more babies.
  • Across cultures, gay boys tend to be more interested in spending time with their mothers.
  • We still don't really know why gay people are attracted to each other.