KIC 8462852: the alien hypothesis back in vogue

KIC 8462852
An August 2009 NASA Spitzer space telescope image shows a cloud, known as DR22, bursting with new stars in the Cygnus region of the sky, where the mysterious KIC 8462852 is located.

The KIC 8462852 star continues to be talked about. Last October scientists noted that this star, apparently an ordinary F3 main sequence star except that the Kepler probe had recorded day-long dips up to 20% of the light curve “unique and inexplicable” which some believe could be explained by assuming an artificial structure as a Dyson sphere.

Nonsense, replied other scientists less than two months after, arguing that to cause the drop in brightness observed in 2011 and 2013 could have been caused by swarms of “cold” comets. Ufologists all around the world suspect an attempt to “cover-up” but the scientific community seemed to want to close the case quickly.

But now a new study published by Bradley Schaefer, astronomer of Louisiana State University, who examined the light curve of KIC 8462852 from 1890 to 1989 thanks to the data contained in the photographic archives of Harvard, revealed that the abnormal star brightness dips are lasting at least a century.

Bradley Schaefer
Dr. Bradley E. Schaefer is a professor of astronomy and astrophysics at Louisiana State University

The “naturalistic” hypothesis of the swarm of cold comets is therefore to fall, so by Ockham’s Razor “all this is produced by one physical mechanism” which “does not appear as any isolated catastrophic event in the last century, but rather must be some ongoing process with continuous effects”.

If they really had to be comets, has calculated Schaefer, the century-long dimming trend requires “648,000 giant comets (each with 200 km diameter) all orchestrated to pass in front of the star within the last century”. An hypothesis even more improbable than that of a Dyson sphere or otherwise of an alien mechanism, which then returns spectacularly in vogue.

Tags: Extraterrestrial life, Astronomy