Not that long ago, the world became fascinated by the mysteries of KIC 8462852, also known as Tabby's Star. Scientists and astronomers couldn’t explain the star’s erratic flickering. Was our view obscured by a passing planet? Were "cometary fragments" blocking the star? Debris or dust clouds? Some believed it could be an alien megastructure, such as a Dyson Sphere.
The star is back in the news this week, as astronomers remain baffled by the star's behavior after further study. Tabby's Star has shown drastic and erratic fluctuation in light output. At one point, the star dimmed by over 22%.
For comparison, when a planet passes a star, the observable drop in brightness is about 1%.
The Daily Mail reports: "The most remarkable of these fluctuations consisted of dozens of uneven, unnatural-looking dips that appeared over a 100-day period indicating that a large number of irregularly shaped objects had passed across the face of the star and temporarily blocked some of the light coming from it."
"The part that really surprised me was just how rapid and non-linear it was," astronomer Ben Montet told Gizmodo. "We spent a long time trying to convince ourselves this wasn’t real. We just weren’t able to."
Astronomers have been examining data from NASA's Kepler telescope, hoping to find comparable activity with other nearby stars. But so far, they haven’t had any luck.
Some believe that Tabby's Star could be partially covered by a Dyson Sphere, a process of gathering power from a star by surrounding it with solar gathering plates and satellites.