Remember the alien mega-structure star? Yes, it was that weird star that was undergoing large dints in light, leading to the proposal however, doubtful that aliens might have built a giant structure around the star. Of course, we are pretty sure that is not the case. But since the star called KIC 8462852 also known as Tabby’s Star or Boyajian's Star jumped onto the scene in 2015, plenty of other theories have been put forward to explain the dints in light, from comets to magnetic field avalanches, with little consensus. Now, a new search from Columbia University says the weird signal may be the outcome of the star eating one or more planets.
The star was seen tumbling in light by up to 22 % by the Kepler telescope over the last few years. But records data show it also plunged by 14% from 1890 to 1989. The comet theory was contentious because it was difficult to see how there would be enough wreckage to cause these large dints. So perhaps, instead, a planet is the actual cause. “We suggest that the secular dimming behavior is the effect of the inspiral of a planetary body or bodies into KIC 8462852,” the scientists write in their paper, accessible on arXiv. They add that it may have happened up to 10,000 years ago.
This means that the dints in light may be the outcome of wreckage left behind by a planet being eaten. And, what is more, some of the dints may not be produced by something confusing our view, but rather a consequence of the event. The consumed planet could have caused the star to rise in brightness, and it is only now returning to its consistent state. The scientists don’t essentially rule out other theories however, they say such an event there could have been several may have put comet or planet wreckage into a highly eccentric orbit around the star, playing some part in the dints in light.
So, it might not be aliens, but the replacements being advertised for this star are still exciting. If this specific theory holds true, it may force reconsideration on how stars and their planets act together. “We estimated that if Tabby’s Star were representative, something like 10 Jupiters would have to fall into a typical star over its lifetime, or maybe even more,” chief author Brian Metzger told New Scientist.