For the past two years, astronomers worldwide have been eagerly observing an object known as the “most mysterious star in the universe” due to its peculiar light changes. According to The Verge, scientists have finally found an explanation for the unusual fluctuations in the light emitted by KIC 8462852.
The mysterious star has left scientists “swimming in data” to unravel its secrets. (Graphic: NASA)
The light from KIC 8462852 undergoes bizarre fluctuations, intensifying and dimming unpredictably. The mystery was believed to be associated with dust surrounding the star, while more complex explanations, including extraterrestrial structures, were ruled out.
The intricate light variations of KIC 8462852 imply that something unusual of significant size is moving in front of the star, leading scientists to consider possibilities such as comets or extraterrestrial megastructures obstructing its light.
The notion of extraterrestrial structures garnered significant attention, with over 1,700 contributors raising $100,000 for a crowdfunding campaign aimed at further observing the star.
From March 2016 to December 2017, astronomers at the Las Cumbres Observatory used telescopes worldwide to witness four instances of this star’s unusual light changes. The campaign yielded intriguing data that requires further analysis.
However, a recent detailed analysis published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters suggests that whatever is blocking the star’s light will not obscure or substantially filter it apart from dust. The extraterrestrial megastructure theory has been debunked.
Nonetheless, the cause of the dust and whether it moves in orbit around the star or originates elsewhere remain unclear. “There is still much more to discover about that mysterious star,” said astronomer Jason Wright.