Astronomers may have found giant alien ‘megastructures’ orbiting star near the Milky Way. NASA Scientists just announced the discovery of a star that may harbor structures which could point to an advanced technological civilization.
The ‘alien’ structures, with a highly unusual transit signal, were spotted by NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope around a star named KIC 8462852.
“We’ve seen nothing like it,” astronomers said. Kepler has collected data on this star steadily for four years. It’s not instrumental error. Kepler isn’t seeing things; the signal is real.
“Over the duration of the Kepler mission, KIC 8462852 was observed to undergo irregularly shaped, periodic dips in flux down to below the 20 percent level,” astronomers wrote in a report, while pointing out that this star is unique.
“We’d never seen anything like this star,” Tabetha Boyajian, a postdoctorate researcher at Yale University and lead author, told The Atlantic. “It was really weird. We thought it might be bad data or movement on the spacecraft, but everything checked out,” she added.
NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope is tasked with finding small, rocky worlds orbiting distant stars. However, exoplanets aren’t the only thing Kepler can detect — stellar flares, star spots and dusty planetary rings can also pop up in the mission’s observations.
Kepler Space Telescope. Photo: Nasa
“I can’t figure this thing out and that’s why it’s so interesting, so cool – it just doesn’t seem to make sense,” Jason Wright, an astronomer from Penn State University told the Independent.
“Aliens should always be the very last hypothesis you consider, but this looked like something you would expect an alien civilization to build. I was fascinated by how crazy it looked,” Mr Wright said during an interview with The Atlantic.
Normally the shape of an exoplanet isn’t particularly surprising because it’s round. The physics of planetary formation dictate that a planetary body above a certain mass will be governed by hydrostatic equilibrium. But “if Kepler detects something that isn’t round. Well, that’s when things can get a bit weird,” he said.
“KIC 8462852 is showing us that there may be something else out there — possibly an alien intelligence that is well on its way to becoming a Type II civilization, which is setting up some kind of artificial structure around its star,” NASA scientists said.
According to NASA, the next step is to point a radio antenna at KIC 8462852, just to see whether the system is generating any artificial radio signals that could indicate the presence of something we’d define as ‘intelligent’.