Tech

Top Astronomers Have Spotted An ‘Alien Megastructure’ Orbiting A Distant Star

We're not making this up. A large cluster of objects in space have been spotted and astronomers are losing their minds because they look like something: "You would expect an alien civilization to build."

In 2009, the Kepler Space Telescope was scanning the nights skies, studying the vast space between the Milky Way's Cygnus and Lyra constellations, when it picked up something incredibly interesting that could quite genuinely be confirmation of extraterrestrial life.

The study stumbled across an incredibly large object that's in orbit around a star (KIC 8462852) and they're pretty sure it's not a planet. In fact the boffins are going as far as to describe the complex object as a "swarm of megastructures."

Astronomers were studying the obscurely-named KIC 8462852 star at the time - a possible candidate for having planets with an Earth-like orbit, that could hold the potential for intelligent life. It wasn't until 2011, when Kepler's 'Planet Hunter' enthusiasts were assessing the data that they saw something they described as "bizarre".

Something about KIC 8462852's light pattern was irregular. The Kepler mission detects exoplanets that hold the potential for being Earth-like by looking for subtle fluctuations in the light of stars: as a planet passes between the star and Kepler, the light will dim, indicating the size and orbit of the planet.

"We’d never seen anything like this star. It was really weird," Tabetha Boyajian, a postdoc astronomer at Yale told Atlantic. "We thought it might be bad data or movement on the spacecraft, but everything checked out."

The star KIC 8462852 is being orbited by a complex group of objects - something like the debris usually associated with a newly-formed star that gradually becomes planets. Except, KIC 8462852 is far too old for this sort of planet formation.

They could be asteroids, sucked in from an unusual set of overlapping orbits are it could be a ruptured planet, but Jason Wright, an astronomer from Penn State University, believes this "swarm of megastructures" could be something far more sci-fi: alien technology used to collect energy from the star.

"When [Boyajian] showed me the data, I was fascinated by how crazy it looked," Wright told Atlantic. "Aliens should always be the very last hypothesis you consider, but this looked like something you would expect an alien civilization to build."

So what next?

Boyajian and Wright are looking to write a proposal to point a huge radio dish at KIC 8462852 in January, in the hope of picking up unusual radio wave.

Should they detect a sizeable amount of radio traffic, they'll be able to borrow the Very Large Array (VLA) in New Mexico - which should be able to determine if the "megastructure" is giving off similar radio waves to our own satellites and technology.

Until then, we're just going to have to sit tight - unless they call us first. 

Watch this space.

MORE

Topics

Share this article

Related Posts