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Remember Tabby’s star? That weird, distant alien star whose brightness dimmed drastically without a clear pattern?
It turns out that the universe has quite a few stars like that.
KIC 8462852, aka Tabby’s Star, is located some 1,470 light-years from Earth, in the Constellation Cygnus. The star became popular when astronomers spotted unusual light fluctuations of the star, including up to a 22% dimming in brightness.
Several theories have been proposed to explain the mysterious light fluctuations of the star, but not one has been proven to satisfy astronomers unanimously.
Now, astronomers may have encountered an even strange star in the universe.
An international group of astronomers has come across a new star which has even more mysterious and unusual light fluctuations than Tabby’s Star.
Dubbed VVV-WIT-07, details about the star and its light fluctuations have been published by experts in the pre-print server arXiv.org portal.
The star and its weird light fluctuations were spotted by astronomers as they were they were examining data from the VISTA Variables program, which studies the central area of the Milky Way.
The scientists examined observations of VVV-WIT-07 taken in a period between 2010 and 2018.
Astronomers found that in eight years, the brightness of the star increased and decreased without an established pattern, causing confusion among astronomers.
Astronomers noticed that instead of brightening, VVV-WIT-07 suddenly dimmed.
This led experts to name the star VVV-WIT-07 where “WIT” stands for “What is this?”
“We don’t know what the object is,” explained Roberto Saito, an astronomer at the Federal University of Santa Catarina in Florianópolis, Brazil.
“And that’s interesting.” The star could have some sort of orbiting debris that periodically blocks the starlight, but Saito and colleagues say they need more observations to figure out if that’s possible or if the flicker is caused by something else.
But Tabby’s star, as well as VVV-WIT-07 aren’t the only stars which display such anomalous behavior.
There’s another star equally puzzling for experts.
J1407 is a distant star that periodically dims as much as ninety-five percent. The star’s mysterious behavior was spotted by Eric Mamajek of the University of Rochester in New York and colleagues back in 2012.
Some experts think that stars like J1407 are orbited by a massive planet with an even bigger ring system which causes the star to periodically eclipse.
Although planets with massive ring system may explain the weird light patterns, experts say that dusty comet fragments in a highly eccentric orbit could also be responsible for the strange dimming patterns.
In addition to that, astronomers have proposed that an “uneven ring of dust” orbits stars like KIC 8462852. Another hypothesis is that a large number of small masses in “tight formation” are orbiting the star.
But the theory we all perhaps love the most is aliens.
Some astronomers have proposed that stars like KIC 8462852 and VVV-WIT-07 are orbited by a massive alien megastructure, built by an extremely advanced alien civilization, in order to harness the star’s energy.