Universe Guide

Tabby`s Star Dimming Again

KIC 8462852 or as its better know, Tabby's star has been causing a bit of a stir again. Tabby's Star is named after Tabetha S. Boyajian, an American astronomer who was the leader of a group that first made a detailed observation of the star. The star is a variable star like no other. The star brightens and dims between magnitudes more than any other star currently know of.

The star has dimmed at least twenty percent, far more than what other variable stars do. When planets cross in front of its star, the star will dip but not as much as this star has done. There's been a lot of speculation as to what could cause the dimming including possible alien interference. Dimming doesn't normally cause much interest but when it did this time, it made all the news headlines including in NewsWeek and in Daily Mail for example.

The fact that its been dimming and brightening over such a large amount, it has led some people to suggest that the star is a Dyson Sphere. A Dyson sphere was first suggested by Olaf Stapledon in his novel, Star Maker in 1937. However it gets its name from Freeman Dyson who popularised the theory. It is suggested that an alien civilisation has become so technologically advanced that they have managed to surround a star with an artificial object to provide an unlimited amount of energy. The book is currently out of copyright in some jurisdictions as the author died in 1950.

We may never know precisely because the star is about 1,276 light years from Earth and we don't have any space ship that can travel to that star and back. It is located in the constellation of Cygnus the Swan.

The Dyson Sphere was covered in an episode of Star Trek, the Next Generation where the Enterprise encounters a Dyson Sphere. The episode Relics also featured Lieutenant Commander Montgomery Scott (Scotty) as a special guest star. The picture below is a screenshot of the what the Dyson Sphere looked like in the episode.

Dyson Sphere as seen form the Enterprise in Relics

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