Time to time, not just the scientific community but also fiction writers, film makers have often wondered about the possibility of existence of life and civilization existing on other planets. We often get to see rumors of UFOs surface. Some like conspiracy theories of ancient aliens behind many of humanity’s marvels, or living amongst us, hiding in plain sight. There have been moments when many a person have often peered into the stars and wondered if we are really alone in the planet.
While pop culture has shown different depiction of extra-terrestrial beings, first contact, etc. as a thrilling adventure of sorts, the actual search for them is not glamorous at all in its conventional sense. It involves sifting through volumes of data, looking for artificialities in received signals, traces of a signal being consistent with extra-terrestrial origin. It’s mostly a laborious and unyielding task, given that the over thirty years have been spent in it without a significant result that conclusively proves the existence of life beyond planet Earth.
However, over the last few years, when the Kepler space observatory, monitoring the star-light of over 100,000 star opened its data, a group of scientists led by Tabetha Boyajian observed the star-light of a particular star lying in the Cygnus constellation, labeled KIC 8462852, noticed abnormalities that soon sparked a hot debate and investigation that just might include an advanced alien civilization as one of the possible explanations if none of the natural explanations fit.
The WTF Star
In a 2015 paper called “Where’s the Flux”, Tabetha Boyajian published her findings on the abnormalities. To explain using minimum scientific jargon, the light from the star showed more than usual dips in intensity. Usually, such dips are seen when planets cross by in front of the observing telescope. But this is a bigger dip than usual, which seems to indicate that the starlight is either being obstructed by a swarm of comets, debris of disintegrated planets or an alien mega-structure.
The latest observations have indicated that its light has been getting slowly dimmer for as long as humans have been observing it, and this is not how a star of its category and age is expected to behave.
While no signals of any kind have been detected, the star’s strange fluctuation of light because of unknown obstructions have left the astronomer community divided.
The Alien Hypothesis – Dyson Spheres
A Dyson sphere is a name given to a hypothetical mega-structure that is built around an entire star, completely engulfing it, and using its inner concave surface area to harvest its energy. It is an indicator of a civilization being highly advanced.
One of the hypothesis advanced to explain the strange behavior of this star, nicknamed Tabby’s star after the scientist who observed its strange behavior, is that it could be a partial Dyson sphere or a Dyson swarm of energy-harvesting structures, though it still does not explain the lack of infrared radiation that the Dyson structures themselves would emit.
While astronomers hypothesize, observe and analyze the data, it just might be possible that the mysterious star is indeed home to a planetary system where a technologically advanced alien civilization exists or existed in the past (since the star is more than 1400 light years away from us).
While it is a convention among astronomers that aliens should be considered last when trying to understand any unexplained behavior of any object in space – from the tiniest dust particles to Red Giants and Quasars, the fact that the presence of an alien civilization being taken into account speaks in itself on how strange Tabby’s Star is.
Who knows, perhaps the moment when humans discover that they were not the only sentient living beings in the universe will arrive sooner than one would think. If that is the case, our collective imagination is bound to go wild in picturizing that mysterious civilization, and the answer to the question – are we alone in the universe!
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