Stars shine and twinkle, but if one abruptly gets 65% dimmer in one day, then there is something unusual going on. An international team of Scientists, headed by Dr Simone Scaringi from the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics, has detected a young star going through unbalanced and extreme dimming over a period of 25 days. The object is called EPIC 204278916, is a low-mass star encircled by a tilted proto-planetary disk, which might be the cause of the unfamiliar light, observed.
The star was founded by the planet hunting telescope Kepler during its K2 mission, and it was witnessed for almost 79 days. Serendipitously, in the first two weeks of detection, the star's brightness varied harshly, settling on a steady variation after the 25th day. Dr. Scaringi told IFLScience, "Other somewhat comparable dipping young stellar objects have been discovered in the past, but I think it is reasonable to say that none have been shown to display such extreme dipping activities for such a short time."
This star will jog the memory people of Tabby’s star, it became an immediate sensation for the (very far-off) option that the dimming could be affected by a Dyson sphere, a theoretical mega-structure built by an innovative alien race to get the most of the energy taken from a star. So is EPIC 204278916 surrounded by an even bigger Dyson sphere? Not certainly. Explanations with the Atacama Large Millimeter/sub-millimeter Array (ALMA) have revealed that this star is not surrounded by an alien mega-structure but a more “traditional” mass disk.
Scaringi added, "We have discovered it to be hard to fully explain the explanations, typically because the transiting material needs to be very huge to cause the detected dips (similar to the size of the star) and transfer the star relatively fast, but we do wonder on two scenarios. It is indeed possible that the inner disk is twisted with respect to the outer disk,which is resolved with the Atacama Large Millimeter/sub-millimeter Array ALMA observatory. This might cause erratic dips as the material being accreted by the star is twisted and blocks some of the starlight. Another possibility is that the starlight is being blocked by some transiting circum-stellar clusters, probably cometary-like debris."
Published in a paper which is available online and acknowledged for publication in the Regular Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, the astronomers has excluded that the star itself is changing radically, though they were able to find out some regular changings that happens as the star rotates. EPIC 204278916 has had only 1/3 of the observing time as that for Tabby’s star, so future research should reveal more information. Kepler will re-observe the region next year, and the astronomers are following a strategy to pursue this source from earth based telescopes as well.