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In Brief: Researchers analyzed 177 high-resolution spectra of Boyajian’s Star in an effort to detect potential laser signals from extraterrestrial civilizations.
There’s a strange star located some 1,600 light years away that has caused the world’s astronomical community to think about aliens and alien tech.
The star officially named KIC 8462852 but nicknamed Tabby’s Star after astronomer Tabetha Boyajian who discovered it, is dimming and we don’t know why.
Stars can dim for a number of reasons.
Changes in a star’s brightness can be caused by orbiting planets, moons, pulsations in the stellar atmosphere, swarms of comets, stellar dust, and… Aliens!
The stars unusual diming has resulted in a plethora of scientific theories trying to explain it.
Until now, we have still not managed to fully understand why the star dims so bizarrely, but we have found a few stars that act just like it.
And since aliens is a possibility that astronomers had to consider, researchers decided to look if the star was inhabited by an alien civilization, capable of building a starlight-blocking megastructure.
If there are aliens there, chances are they’ve got the necessary knowledge and technology to build a communication device based on lasers.
With that in mind, an undergraduate at Princeton University named David Lipman and fellow astronomers decided to see whether or not they could find laser signatures in the light coming from Tabby’s Star.
“By carefully searching this star for laser emission, we are testing the scenario of whether the brightness variations are due to any type of artificial structure around the star, such as a Dyson sphere,” co-author Howard Isaacson, an astronomer at the University of California, Berkeley, told Live Science in an interview.
“If the brightness variations were indeed due to an artificial structure around the star, then perhaps the beings that created the structure are communicating using optical lasers.”
Researches made use of the Automated Planet Finder Telescope at the Lick Observatory to see whether Tabby’s star was home to alien civilizations.
They looked for a signal powered by a 24-megawatt laser, or something more powerful than that.
If there is an advanced civilization living near Tabby’s star, and if they are technologically advanced as much as we are, they should have the ability to build such lasers.
Scientists report in the study, accepted for publication in the journal Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific that no evidence of lasers has been found coming from Tabby’s Star.
They did, however, find a few signals that were promising, but after rechecking the data, they were nothing more than false positives.
“False positives resulting from cosmic ray events were eliminated through a secondary multi-step analysis process,” the researchers explained in the study.
“The top candidates from the analysis can all be explained as either cosmic ray hits, stellar emission lines or atmospheric airglow emission lines.”
And while experts say that they’ve not found evidence of aliens around Tabby’s Star, the fact that they continue to search that specific part of the sky for alien techno-signatures is extremely interesting.