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Cosmic dust, not
'alien megastructure,' veils mysterious star

Cosmic dust, not <br/>'alien megastructure,' veils mysterious star


AFP
Miami
It's been called the"most mysterious star in the universe," bigger than the sun and yet brightening and dimming in an odd way that suggested to some an alien megastructure might be circling it.
But a study out Wednesday, compiled by more than 100 scientists who have been observing the star named KIC 8462852, puts the alien rumors to rest.
"Dust is most likely the reason why the star's light appears to dim and brighten," said lead author Tabetha Boyajian, assistant professor of physics and astronomy at Louisiana State University, for whom"Tabby's Star" is nicknamed.
"The new data shows that different colors of light are being blocked at different intensities. Therefore, whatever is passing between us and the star is not opaque, as would be expected from a planet or alien megastructure."
The initial discovery of the star was made with the help of NASA's planet-hunting space telescope, known as Kepler.
Kepler detects planets by tracking moments when a star's light dims as an object passes in front of it.
The unusual dips in brightness in Tabby's Star -- more than 1,000 light-years away, about 50 percent bigger and 1,000 degrees hotter than the sun -- aroused global interest.
Citizen scientists, known as the Planet Hunters, were the ones who discovered the star's strange behavior, by sifting through massive amounts of data from the NASA Kepler mission.
"If it wasn't for people with an unbiased look on our universe, this unusual star would have been overlooked," Boyajian said.

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