Finally! Mystery Behind Alien Megastructure Solved...and It Does Not Involve ET
Scientists think they have finally figured out what has been causing the bizarre behaviour of KIC 8462852, also known as Tabby's star...and the explanation does not involve intelligent aliens.
In October last year, Tabby's star became a topic of controversy after scientists discovered that the star is mysteriously blinking. One of the most notorious speculations is that the light was being blocked by a huge object called a Dyson Sphere - a theoretical structure was allegedly built by aliens to harvest its energy.
Now, a team of scientists from the University of Illinois said it is not because of ET, rather the luminosity variations may be intrinsic to the star itself.
Richard Weaver, one of the authors of the study, said in a statement: "There are a few telltale signs of occultation, or dimming by an independent body blocking the view. The most important is periodicity. In Tabby's star, the small and big events are not periodic-they don't occur at regular intervals-and this is one of the central mysteries of the light curve. "
Science Alert reported that the researchers have been looking at how the star's large and small dips in brightness relate to each other. Applying a number of mathematical models to the data, they found out that the behaviour of the star is consistent with the "avalanche statistics," which is associated with things going through certain phase transitions.
Avalanche statistics reveals patterns where small dips in the data occurring between the larger dips ultimately equate to even larger dips.
Tech Times noted that an example of such transition can be seen in the slow deformation of brittle materials. Little cracklings eventually get louder until the material breaks in a big snap.
The study, published in Physical Review Letters concluded that the start is actually going through an internal phase transition, which is accountable for the powerful outbursts on the surface that irregularly block the light emissions detected by telescopes.
To put it simply, internal conditions in the star itself are causing the dips in its brightness.
"Our work gives a framework on how to analyze the data and perhaps even to classify stars into how close or how far away the stars are from such a transition. These statistical analysis tools have been tested and successfully applied to avalanche noise in magnetic systems and plastic deformation. We are transporting these tools to astrophysics to learn more about the dynamics of stars and eventually to compare different stars," Karin Dahmen, one of the authors, said in a statement.
"As a next step we believe the same type of analysis should be applied to other stars to see how universal these fluctuation statistics are among the stars that are already known. In other words we would use the statistics of the noise in the light curves in these stars to learn something about the dynamical processes that are going on inside the star," she added.