Space Research

Tabby’s Star darkens again, sets a new brightness dimming record

Tabby’s star, also known as the “Alien Megastructure” star, has been the research subject for scientists because of its weird pattern of dimming. The star was discovered by the Louisiana State University astrophysicist, Tabetha Boyajian.

This time the Tabby’s Star has dimmed by at least 5 per cent or maybe even as much as 10 per cent. This dip is probably one of the most dramatic drops in light observed in the star by NASA’s Kepler space telescope.

According to Boyajian, the brightness of the star started dimming on March 16, dropping down 4 per cent, but soon returned back to normal again in the following days. Surprisingly, the star started to dim again on March 26. Boyajian informed about the star’s dimming in her observation blog.

“Today we have some very big news – data taken at TFN last night show the flux is down 5 per cent,” Boyajian noted. “This drop has now been confirmed by AAVSO observer John Hall. Looks like we beat the record set just last week on the deepest dip observed since Kepler!”

Tabby’s star is located around 1,280 light years away from the earth. The star’s dimming is highly irregular, occurring at unpredictable intervals, and to varying degrees. Scientists have not yet been able to figure out why it dims the way it does.

The Kepler telescope observed the Tabby’s star dim as much as 22 per cent in 2011. It had several major dimming events in May, June, August, September, October and November/December of 2017.

What’s interesting to note is that in addition to dimming, the Tabby’s star has also gone through extended periods of brightening in the past. That is what makes the alien megastructure star so perplexing.

A number of theories have been put forward by researchers to explain the star’s strange behavior. The leading explanation is that the dimming of the star is caused by massive dust clouds blocking the view from Earth. But, it still remains unclear what the dust is and where it came from.

About the author

Megha Kedia

Megha Kedia

Megha is a seasoned reporter with over six years of experience covering news in technology, science and related fields. At The Space News, Megha covers space research & technology news.

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