Researchers from the Universities of Colombia and Berkeley spotted some sort of an “alien megastructure” back in 2015. Further studies brought out shocking discoveries on the nature of the structure.
A new study bound to be published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society found the new theory on the structure. They found that KIC 8462852 (that is the alien megastructure) has a dimming pattern. The explanation for this unusual pattern may be provided by the fact that the structure is actually a planet-consuming star.
The researchers involved in the study explained the process in the following way. The act of the star consuming the planet should have caused great brightness that the star is recovering from. The remains of the planet should be passing somewhere in front of the star, thus causing the dimming patterns observed in the brightness.
Researchers analyzed the Kepler data in the first place, and found drops from 15 percent to 22 percent in brightness. Afterwards, they consulted further studies on the long-term behavior of KIC 8462852, also called Tabby’s Star. One study on the brightness between 1890 and 1989 found a drop by 14 percent. A second study found that only a 3 percent drop in brightness during the four years that Kepler spent analyzing the star.
A next step in the study was the description of the star’s behavior by using the Kozai Mechanism. This technique helps in finding the orbits of planets by looking at their inclination and peculiarities. The results revealed that this star might have consumed several planets around 10,000 years ago.
The planet consuming might have caused the brightening process that our star is currently recovering from. Also, the period drops in the brightness level should be caused by the remains of the ingested planet that travel in front of the star on high-eccentricity orbits.
The researchers are still unsure on the number of planets the star consumed. It either ingested one single planet the size of Jupiter, or many smaller planets that together made up the same size. The latter possibility is more plausible, since the ingestion of more objects explains the changing rate in dimness spotted in previous studies.
If these hypotheses are confirmed, scientists are about to find new perspectives on the evolution of stars and their planet-consuming behavior.
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