A group of astronomers from Iowa State Univeristy think they have solved a recent cosmic mystery: the strange fluctuations in light coming from star KIC 8462852, a distant sun nestled between the constellations Cygnus and Lyra, which some scientists had guessed might be a sign of an “alien megastructure.”
By Amy Thompson|MOTHERBOARD
he new research study published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters indicates the likely culprit is not an alien construction site, unfortunately, but rather a swarm of comets.
Led by Massimo Marengo, associate professor of physics and astronomy at Iowa State, the research expands on the original stellar discovery made by Yale Postdoc Tabitha Boyajian.
“After further observations, it appears that the scenario in which the dimming in the KIC 8462852 light curve were caused by the destruction of a family of comets remains the preferred explanation,” the paper says.
NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope has monitored a patch of sky for four years in search of exoplanets, or planets beyond our Solar System. On two separate occasions, once in 2011 and again in 2013, astronomers noticed something odd around the star KIC 8462852.