KIC 8462852: Where’s the Flux?

A little over a year ago, Tabby Boyajian gave a seminar here at the Center for Exoplanets and Habitable Worlds about her research. While she was here, she showed me some crazy light curves from Kepler spotted by her team of PlanetHunters:

8462852_all 8462852_q1 8462852_q13 8462852_q8 8462852_q16_q17

Did I have any idea what it might be she wondered?  We tossed around ideas, but I was stumped.  Tabby’s team had spectra, which helped rule out some possibilities: it’s clearly an F star, and the “fuzz” in the second panel above is due to its 0.88 d rotation period.  But those dips are crazy!

One can think of lots of ways stars can behave oddly like this, but almost all of them invoke young stars.  This star is moving too fast to have formed recently, and doesn’t show any infrared signs of a big disk that you would associate with the material that could cause those dips.  And there aren’t any star forming regions in that part of the sky, anyway.  How could an old star do this?

Interestingly, I had been working on a paper about detecting transiting megastructures with Kepler.  The idea is that if advanced alien civilizations build planet-sized megastructures — solar panels, ring worlds, telescopes, beacons, whatever — Kepler might be able to distinguish them from planets.  Luc Arnold wrote a nice paper about this, and I was turning my blog post on the topic into a proper journal article.

One of the things that occurred to me is that a civilization that would build one megastructure would eventually build more.  The star might be surrounded by them (a Dyson swarm).  What would that look like?

If they were small, it might be a flickering, or even just a general dimming.  But if they were very large, you would get dips.  It would look maybe like Kenworthy and Mamajek’s giant ring system, but without the obvious symmetries.

The analogy I have is watching the shadows on the blinds of people outside a window passing by. If one person is going around the block on a bicycle, their shadow will appear regularly in time and shape (like a regular transiting planet). But crowds of people ambling by — both directions, fast and slow, big and large — would not have any regularity about it at all.  The total light coming through the blights might vary like — Tabby’s star.

My philosophy of SETI (section 2.3 of this paper) is that you should reserve the alien hypothesis as a last resort. One of the reasons not stated in that link is analogous to Cochran’s Commandment to planet hunters prior to 51 Peg b‘s discovery:

Thou shalt not embarrass thyself and thy colleagues by claiming false planets.

It would be such a big deal if true, it’s important that you be absolutely sure before claiming you’ve detected something, lest everybody lose credibility.  Much more so for SETI.

But from a SETI perspective, one should focus one’s resources on the best targets.  Looking for astronomical anomalies is a reasonable way to focus one’s search. There is no inconsistency between assuming purely natural explanations for all phenomena, and targeting SETI efforts at the most astrophysically inexplicable phenomena.

I found Tabby’s star to be inexplicable, so I contacted Andrew Siemion at the Berkeley SETI Research Center. I told him we had a very strange star, and how does one go about doing a radio SETI search?


The Green Bank 100m telescope

Andrew was initially skeptical, but he quickly agreed that this is a great target.  He, Tabby, some of the PlanetHunters, and I put in a Green Bank Telescope proposal to do a classical, radio-SETI search (à la Contact), and I went to work on my paper.

Then a few things happened.  First, Tabby’s team published up KIC8462852 (that’s the name of the star) with the appropriate subtitle “Where’s the Flux?” (we call it “the WTF star” internally, although I more commonly call it “Tabby’s star” or “LGM-2”.).

This is such a cool object.  I really want to know what’s going on.  Kudos to the whole PlanetHunters team for such an amazing find.

Tabby’s team tentatively settles on a plausible but contrived natural explanation for it: a swarm of comets recently perturbed by the passage of a nearby star.  I would put low odds on that being the right answer, but it’s the best one I’ve seen so far (and much more likely than aliens, I’d say).  If I had to guess I’d say the star is young, despite all appearances.  I can’t back that up.

Anyway, a few weeks later, Andrew gave some congressional testimony, and while down there met Ross Andersen of the Atlantic.  Andrew told Ross about Tabby’s star, Ross interviewed Tabby, then Ross interviewed me (we know each other from an earlier story), and then Ross wrote up an article about Tabby’s star.  Ross’s story is well written and plays up the megastructure angle in a compelling way.

The internet went aflutter.  I’m glad for Phil Plait’s sober take — he gets it just right.  The British tabloids did their predictable thing (I won’t link — they couldn’t even be bothered to get my name right, much less convey the proper sense of proportion).  And it’s all still taking off.

Screen Shot 2015-10-15 at 9.15.14 AM

I’m really glad that Tabby’s star is getting so much media coverage.  It’s a great mystery!

But I am a bit embarrassed about the less responsible reporting overstating the evidence here — especially since we didn’t have anything ready to show our professional colleagues so that they can give reporters informed takes on it.

I usually don’t post papers prior to acceptance, but we have a favorable referee’s report and everyone’s asking, so since the Internet seems to be eating this up, I asked co-author Kim Cartier to post it to the arXiv.

You can find it here. Section 4 is what you are looking for.

144 thoughts on “KIC 8462852: Where’s the Flux?

  1. Dryson

    Is there any way to determine if limestone is present around Tabby’s Star? If so then life might be present as many if not all forms of life use calcium to create shells of one time or another to protect vital organs as well as developing offspring in.

    Would limestone in large amounts cause KIC 8462852 to dim? Could there be a limestone planet in orbit around KIC?

  2. Dryson

    Dyson Sphere and Dyson Swarms

    Has anyone ever actually built a scaled version of a Dyson Sphere or Dyson Swarm that would actually be able to siphon energy from a sun?

    Having a working model of a Dyson Sphere or Dyson Sphere would help figure out the reason why KIC and other suns have a dim when compared to how a Dyson Sphere or Swarm affects a sun.

  3. Dryson

    Gold Disease

    From another article – History of Tabby’s Star

    We spent a whole week discussing calibration techniques, scanners, and fungus (one of the reasons why digitization of these plates is so important!). These fungi are actually called “gold disease” owing to their look on the glass. We enjoyed long evening talks about the millions of plates that still await their scientific use, and after all of this, had the chance to discuss our own findings in a presentation and discussion.

    If the dimming of KIC 8462 is a result of Gold Disease then the next mission that Kepler has taken on would see the same dimming take place because of the Gold Disease. If there are not any dims taking place on the next mission then changes in the instrumentation is not the problem.

  4. Dryson

    What is the age of KIC 8462?

    The dinosaurs first evolved about 230 million years ago, when the Sun was about 95 percent of its current age, and they died out when the Sun was about 98.5% of its current age.

    If dinosaurs evolved at 95% of the Suns age then by calculating a targeted sun that is about 95% its age as well that is similar to our own Sun is then based on the evolution of Earth a planet orbiting a 95% aged sun might be more likely to have life evolving on it if the planet resides within the goldilocks zone.

    If KIC is within a 95% to 99% age period then assuming intelligent life is present and affecting KIC 8462 is more academically presentable due to the fact that Earth has intelligent life capable of traveling to planets and orbits a sun that is within 99% of its age.

  5. Dryson


    I have to revise my reasoning for why the KIC Network is special. Astrophysicists have been through the space time spectrum of speculation regarding KIC 8462 ranging from Dyson Sphere’s to comets.

    This radical idea of what may be causing the dims is as elusive as a black hole itself is. I for one believe that a black hole is like the drain in a sink or bath tub that creates a vortex at its center while the mass of what is being taken in resides around the sides of the vortex. A sink or tub vortex has an ending that dumps the mass of the vortex into a much larger are. A black hole might function the same.

    What could be taking place within the KIC Network of stars could be that exit point of matter from a black hole that would place pressure against a star causing the light of the star to dim much like blowing on a lit match. Similar to how a vortex moves around on land and is never in the same location but is rather eradict could lend some understanding to why the light curve of the stars in the KIC Network fluctuate.

    To basically say this is true is baseless. But if the stars of the KIC Network orbit around a void in space then perhaps the turbulence of the matter being dumped into the KIC Network would cause the stars to orbit in the manner they do.

  6. Dryson

    What would make the KIC Network so special?

    I was reading how an observatory recently recorded Atomic Oxygen in the atmosphere of Mars. Oxygen Atoms have an impact of the atmosphere of Mars affecting how other other gases escape Mars. Looking at the curve of the atmosphere in the article the curve “dims” similar to how the light curve of KIC 8462 and other stars observed have a light curve that dims.

    Could there be a reaction taking place in the atmosphere of KIC 8462 and other stars where a gas is causing the escape of gases to differ thus causing the dimming to take place?

  7. Dryson

    KIC 8462 Vape for E-Cigs.

    Is there a Vape in production named KIC 8462 that can be used with E-Cigs? I think it would be interesting to taste the mystery of the elements surrounding Tabby’s Star. Maybe even a Vape of what a Dyson Star might taste like…up in smoke.

  8. Geoff Mossburg

    It’s a shame that your idea about the dimming of KIC 8462852 couldn’t have been taken at face value and prioritized appropriately by the media and the public, because it is an interesting idea and all ideas should be considered and ruled out with the due process of scientific method. IMHO, the only thing you did wrong was to state your idea in a way that would get out to the general public, where paranoia and trolls abound, and instinct overrides intuition, but I’m not sure what other choices you could have had; No good science is conducted in a vacuum, and to require it to be so would lead to censorship of data. As a member of the general public (ie: not a member of the scientific community), I appreciate your candor and I greatly appreciate creative thinking in science. I sincerely hope that there is no possibility that the public dispute of KIC 8462852 will adversely affect the careers of you or any other scientist taking this idea with proper consideration.

  9. EricSECT

    Although I would be thrilled to see what is occurring at Tabby’s Star to be evidence of ETI, we gotta rule out “natural causes” first. When NO natural cause is left standing, what’s left is the inexplicable.

    As I posted previously, Dirk Bontes has proposed that Tabby’s is acting the way it is because, as I understand it, it is about to exit the main sequence. The dimming mechanism is sort of similar to a Cephid variable star, a Helium double ionization layer that builds up (opaque) and then clears (transparent). This explains the absence of detectable IR excess and the ginormous dimming events. I can NOT see any fault in his hypothesis, although I would like to see this presented as a science paper. Supporting evidence would be to find similar stars acting the same way. I like his idea much better than the “comet swarm” hypothesis, which seems contrived.

    You stated on May 9th, 2016 at 9:22, “…There are other stars in the KIC registry network that have a peculiar light curve similar to KIC 8462. It would seem that this enigma is centered around the KIC designated star network. What would make the KIC designated star network so special? ”

    I asked Jason Wright about this, and he explained March 15 2016 at 9:43, it is an artifact of the Kepler scope. (Note: “KIC” is simply a Kepler star of interest designater.)

    Jason: “…Kepler was designed to be a very stable photometer on *short* (hours) timescales. On long timescales it is a very poor photometer.” Thus, it varies per Kepler.

  10. Dryson

    ericSect…so what it is that you think we are looking at regarding KIC 8462?

    Artificial in origin?

    I have ran several calculations and for the light curve of KIC 8462 to have dimmed to 15% and 22% a massively size able object would had to have transited across KIC 8462. If the entire system was shrouded in cometary dust such a shroud would have been determined to have existed already. KIC 8462 is a normal star with no irregularities in its daily solar processes.

    There are other stars in the KIC registry network that have a peculiar light curve similar to KIC 8462. It would seem that this enigma is centered around the KIC designated star network. What would make the KIC designated star network so special? What types of matter could be siphoned off of these stars to assist an alien species?

    A new field of study. What happens when to a star when its various matter composition is siphoned off artificially? There has to be an equal and opposite reaction in the light that a sun radiates based on the sun’s matter composition. If significant percentage of that matter is removed from the sun then an equal and opposite reaction will take place thus possibly causing the sun to dim in an opposite and equal manner until the lost matter is replaced.

    LIGO –

    I was reading through LIGO’s vibration-isolation section and began thinking.
    Vibration Isolation
    For an instrument that needs to remain as still as possible, it is ironic that LIGO is so sensitive that it can feel the smallest vibrations from near and far. LIGO is essentially a giant seismometer capable of sensing vibrations from traffic on nearby roads, weather patterns on the other side of the continent, staff biking alongside detector arms, ocean waves crashing on shores hundreds of miles away, and of course nearly every significant earthquake on the planet.

    If LIGO is so sensitive that it can detect weather patterns from the other side of the continent it should be able to determine what is orbiting KIC 8462 as well when directed towards KIC 8462. LIGO should be able to determine a rate of time passing between artificial objects and natural objects. For example Dyson Spheres orbiting KIC 8462 would transit across KIC 8462 in a very defined pattern compared to natural objects that would have more random transit spacing times between each object.

    Since Gravitational Waves can be now be detected it should be rather easy for a LIGO based platform in space to detect the effect of a planet or artificial object generating or being effected by gravitational waves as each object would effect space-time itself differently.

    Basically if a natural object is transiting across KIC 8462 the gravitational waves that would be detected would be varying and random due to the shape of the object not be uniform on all sides. Compared to an artificial object that would generate near perfect gravitational waves in space-time because of the uniformity of the artificial object and the surface area needed to harvest as much solar matter as possible during the transit.

    There has to be a way to tune LIGO’s instruments to be able to light patterns from far off stars such as KIC 8462. Light moves through a vacuum at the speed of light and does in fact create a pressure against objects. A filter would need to be built into the system that would block out light from stars not being studied that would be designed to filter out the light based on the distance from the filter to the star. For example, the filter is set to 1,000 light years and is focused on a single star. Light from other sources will obviously come into contact with the filter. However any light from a star that has registered at lets say 100 light years from the filter would simply see the data as tagged not from the designated distance as the packet effected the laser beam.

    I think LIGO and its components are going to open up Planet Hunting like we have never seen before.

  11. EricSECT

    This above hypothesis by Dirk Bontes puts forth that a similar mechanism which occurs in a Cephid variable star (the double ionization of Helium at elevated temperatures, which temporarily renders it opaque) can explain Tabby’s dimming events. His idea makes sense and I can’t shoot any holes in it. The only weakness is that although it explains what we see it does not make unique predictions to distinguish it from other theories. If we find a handful of other stars (of the same class?) that act similarly, that seems like that would be supporting evidence. I like the hypothesis much more than the (to me) contrived massive comet swarm(s), the only other still standing “natural” alternative.

  12. Dryson

    Spectral Analysis of KIC 8462

    After this article at Space dot Com –

    Is there way to determine from a spectral analysis of the dims of KIC 8462 to determine what type of objects caused the dimming to take place? When light passes in front of other light the spectrum values change to a new color. An asteroid would yield one type of spectrum that would change while transiting across KIC, just the same as a swarm of comets would as well as a planet with life on it or habitable planet would cause a spectral change in the light emitted.

  13. Dryson

    Alien Dust Passing Through the KIC Systems –

    (CNN)NASA just discovered some special particles floating in our cosmic neighborhood.

    The Cassini spacecraft, which has been orbiting Saturn since 2004, has detected alien dust that came from outside our solar system.

    Scientists suspect that this dust is interstellar in origin because it moves fast and in different directions, compared to the dust found on Saturn, according to a recently published report in the journal of Science. And although this alien dust was faint, it had a distinct signature.

    Could the reason for the dimming of KIC 8462 and the other KIC designated planets have been caused by alien dust passing through the system that would be very faint and almost impossible to detect using Kepler but would have enough volume to cause the dims of KIC 8462 as the dust particle transited across KIC 8462?

  14. Dryson

    Could the cannibilization taking place in the Fornax cluster somehow have caused the light curves of KIC 8462 to occur seeing as how the Fornax Cluster is only 65 light years away?

  15. Dryson

    Cloaking a Star – KIC 8462852 mentioned

    Another possible reason why KIC 8462 and other stars with the KIC designation have very odd dims. The light curve of each sun might be possibly being affected so that the planets orbiting KIC with sentient life on them would be obscured so as too keep the planets hidden.

    If we can theorize or even develop. such an idea then an alien race of the same caliber of sentient thought as humans have would also be able to theorize and develop such a device

  16. hans

    JWT is due in 2018 right ? so i, we need to open the betting house.

    My money was on a dyson swarms but more a Niven’ ring under construction.

    But it is definitely IMHO an ETI. I have read anything from eliptic path, dark matter, exotic planet, black holes merger. But as a layman, i would, there is a transit and there is a dimming.

    The cheapest explanation is it is a structure being assembled either naturally or contra-naturally.

    That post changed my percetion…

    yes, i will bet my dosh on ETI on dyson swarms part of a Niven’s ring…

  17. Jasa SEO

    he reflected light could even be directed to a nearby solar system (such as towards a planet orbiting a very close, neighboring, colder red dwarf star). And perhaps as the human race will most likely do as our sun ages and gets hotter, we will resort to space-based reflectors to redirect the sun’s radiant energy away from earth and possibly towards frozen celestial bodies farther out to make them more habitable.

  18. Dryson


    This green glow is thought to be created by atoms of diatomic carbon surrounding the comet and fluorescing in the sunlight,

    If atoms of diatomic carbon are present around a comet and could cause a dim to occur as the comet transits the sun perhaps diatomic atoms around the KIC series of stars experiencing dims could be what is causing the dims to take place. With at least three to four different suns in the KIC series being affected in the same way maybe the entire region is flooded with diatomic atoms that cause large dims to occur.

  19. Dryson

    There are three other stars that exhibit the same type of long term dimming with step changes that KIC 8462 does, KIC 8462852, KIC 7180968, KIC 10010623 and KIC 11498538 . With all of the chaos, confusion and grief caused by these stars I think they should be named the Devil’s Foundry. KIC 10010623 might be the same as KIC 7180. If so then the three stars should be termed The Devil’s Triangle.

    Should we deploy warning beacons?

  20. EricSECT

    Fred Parker:
    (Hiya, Fred, I also posted this same response over at CD).
    This hypothesized occulting object would have to be approximately 20 times the area of Jupiter’s disk (and more if not 100% opaque) to cause the two largest dimmings of Tabby’s Star that we’ve observed. I don’t wish to presume any limitations at all for an advanced ETI but that just seems excessively large (for a simple star-shade). Further, since no reflective material can be 100% effective, some amount of waste heat from this gargantuan object as it warms should be re-radiated away as IR. But given : It is unknown if our current IR detection is sensitive enough to see this reflector waste IR from 1500 ly away. We can only constrain it.

    Should we not also expect a glint of increased flux every now and then as this proposed reflector/star-shade passes behind Tabby’s (as seen from our line of sight) and some energy is spilled out and directed our way by chance?

    A “Niven Ring” seems to me the best fit for the shape of the largest transits, see above link. The excess IR that we do not detect but which MUST exist may be direction-ally radiated (somehow!) and/or too low in temperature (<100K) …and/or we are CLOSE but do not quite have the required sensitivity to see it. Have to wait for JWST in 2018. Can anyone think of the HOW (by what means?) natural or not, that will cause this excess IR to be directionally radiated?

  21. Fred Parker

    The reflector theory would explain both types of dimming -both the short term variations and the longer term attenuation trend. As an example of a short term variation that matches what was observed from the Kepler telescope, if a planet was being cooled by a swarm of reflectors (made perhaps from an ultra-thin mylar type of highly-reflective material), then as an observer on earth sees this planet orbit in front of it’s parent star, the observer would also observe the partial eclipse of the star from the swarm of reflectors.  This would be highly directional and would create a sharp swing down and then back up in the amount of radiant energy reaching the observer.  The opposite would happen for a planet being warmed up.  As for the longer-term dimming of the star, the continued construction and deployment of numerous space-based reflectors over a century of time would produce an ever-increasing obscuration of the star.

  22. Fred Parker

    One postulate to explain this occurrence is that this could be a swarm of large reflectors in orbit around this star.  This would also  explain the lack of an increased infrared signature emanating from the star. The reflectors could possibly be used to significantly expand the habitable zone of the star by partially eclipsing the star’s radiant energy from striking a planet that resides on the hotter side of the zone and directing the reflected light to a planet on the colder side of the zone.  The reflected light could even be directed to a nearby solar system (such as towards a planet orbiting a very close, neighboring, colder red dwarf star).  And perhaps as the human race will most likely do as our sun ages and gets hotter, we will resort to space-based reflectors to redirect the sun’s radiant energy away from earth and possibly towards frozen celestial bodies farther out to make them more habitable.  In all of these scenarios, the reflectors would need to be able to pivot slowly to keep the angle of reflection directed towards or away from the desired planet(s) as it orbited its star.  This would explain the recorded dips in light as the swarm of reflectors continually made dynamic adjustments.

  23. Dryson

    Another question is have is based on the this video from involving the merger of two black holes.

    I noticed that as the two black holes merged the stars closest to the black holes on the perimeter of the merger moved back and forth until the merger was complete. Would the light from such stars also jump back and forth causing irregularities in monitoring the light curve of the star as well?

  24. EricSECT

    Emphasis should be focused on proposals that are the least contrived yet must address these facts:

    (1) This occulting object around Tabby’s has an area approximately 20 times that of Jupiter: more if not 100% opaque to explain the two deep transits. This is a truly gargantuan sized object! Much too large to be a planet (physically impossible).

    (2) If there was data for only a SINGLE deep (20%) transit, I think it could reasonably be dismissed as “Oh well, things that go bump in the night, perhaps an interstellar cloud.” BUT, since there are two events, this is evidence that “something that we can NOT yet explain is going on here.” May or may not have a periodicity, can’t tell-need more data.

    (3) There is a lack of excess IR that SHOULD be there from any repeating transiting object. We may NOT have the required IR sensitivity. IF its there, JWST should see it, 2018.

    Personally, I think ETI is the least contrived explanation and further, the lack of IR supports ETI. IR is being radiated in a direction away from our view (somehow!) after a maximum amount of work is extracted, <100K emitted (just a bit below our current sensitivity). And I think the shape that best fits the shape of the two deep dimming events is a "Niven Ring" as shown below:

  25. Dryson

    Dark Matter being of probable cause in the dim of KIC 8462 –

    I am suggesting that based on the new article form regarding Dark Matter as being heavy particles that are similar to miniature black holes that perhaps when particles of Dark Matter collide they might form a Dark Matter Hole that would cause the light curve of a sun to dim and then return to normal once the swarm of Dark Matter particles transited across the sun or passed through the sun itself.

  26. Dryson

    Another thought could be that if KIC 8462 has the ability to collapse into a black hole then perhaps the light curve of KIC 8462 is indicative of the process of a sun at the beginning of a collapse into a black hole where the fuel is in the early stages of depletion.

  27. Dryson

    Longwave Radiation Flux

    Longwave Radiation Flux – Longwave flux is a product of both downwelling infrared energy as well as emission by the underlying surface. The cooling associated with the divergence of longwave radiation is necessary for creating and sustaining lasting inversion layers close to the surface during polar night. Longwave radiation flux divergence also plays a role in the formation of fog.

    Could KIC 8462 actually be creating its own fog around itself thus causing the light emitted to curve drastically as we have seen?

    The nest step would be to investigate which particles that when interacting with Longwave Radiation Flux would create a fog that would block out a certain percentage of the light from KIC 8462.

  28. EricSECT

    Thanks, Jason.
    What really nails it for me, and I should have thought of this earlier, is if you plot flux vs time for some other star besides Tabby’s (KIC 7180968 or 10010623, 11498538: referred to as “calibration stars” -F3V and assumed steady-by Schafer/Hippke). They all show the same long term dimming with step changes.

    Does Kepler data show a something with a period of around 21 days (periodogram) for Tabby’s? It sure looks like it to me:

    If so, I am very surprised to hear it from a comments contributor at CD and not from a published or to be published paper.

  29. jtw13 Post author

    Kepler was designed to be a very stable photometer on *short* (hours) timescales. On long timescales it is a very poor photometer.

    So yes, there are long-term trends in the data that are instrumental. In particular, each quarter (that is, each different color on the plot you linked to, representing time between 90 degree spacecraft rolls to keep the solar panels facing the sun) is at a different normalization. Within each quarter there can be long timescale, secular changes in the instrumental response, although most of those have been removed in the data set you linked to, I think. Finally, I do not think the long-term trend across the entire Kepler mission is meaningful, either. I have asked some Kepler folks about the possibility of using the raw data to detect any long-term secular dimming and they are skeptical that anything real can be recovered from beneath these instrumental effects.

    But I’m not an expert; these data cleaning issues are complex.

  30. ericSECT

    Here’s a handy link to the Kepler data for those interested in Tabby’s Star. You can do all kinds of manipulation with it. Thank you Michael at Centauri Dreams!

    Jason Wright:
    If I may….. (1) (From the Kepler data in the link I provided above).
    Tabby’s flux for the entire 1700 days of observation plot shows a steady downward trend. Is this a data artifact of Kepler? Due to electronics and/or CCD detectors aging? I am assuming that because Tabitha B., Bradley Schaefer, Hippke and others have not mentioned this, this raw data needs to be “normalized”?

    (2) There are also step changes in Tabby’s flux, about 8 of them, first step between day 349 and day 353. Another data artifact? Something to do with Kepler’s orbit, and passing behind the Sun, stopping and starting observations?

    Dryson stated: “…With the consistent dims taking place prior to the 15% a planetary infrastructure is most likely present with planets ranging in size from Super Giants causing the 22% dim to Near Earth Sized and smaller planets causing the smaller dims. Planets with possible gaseous clouds orbiting the planets or a large gas cloud present in the system of KIC that causes continual light curve fluctuations of KIC 8462…”

    A “super giant” planet as the cause for Tabby’s dimming events seems implausible. About the biggest in diameter a planet can get is somewhere around Jupiter’s. An object Jupiter’s diameter will only block about 1% of the stellar flux. If you were building planets and start to add mass, what happens is that instead of increasing diameter the object just becomes more and more dense. The object transitions from being what we call a planet to a Brown Dwarf at about 8 Jupiter masses. At about 80 Jupiter masses, it ignites and becomes a Red Dwarf star (now the heat from H2 fusion changes the equation and will permit an increase in diameter as you continue to add mass).

    Also, if you look at the link I provided above, you can root around in the tab marked “Periodogram/phase curve” (takes a while to load) and it will provide evidence (at least in the first quarter of observations) of (1) A 0.9 Earth day period (taken to be Tabby’s rotation) and (2) A cluster of periods around 22-ish days (a planet?), which I was surprised to hear FIRST from a fellow contributor at Centauri Dreams and NOT in a scientific paper. Here’s the periodogram link:

    Any proposed planetary ring system(s) as the cause of the dimming events must obscure up to about 20 times the area of Jupiter (assuming 100% opaque). Would require a huge planet with enormous rings, close to Tabby, seems we would see it in radial velocity.

  31. dryson

    Another thought about KIC 8462

    A relative calm state of KIC 8462 starts at day 450 and ends at day 1175. During these 725 days there is little activity on the surface of KIC compared to days 0 to 450 and days 1175 to 1600 where there is much more activity taking place. The only major activity is the dim of 15% at day 780 with slight activity taking place approximately 200 days prior to the 15% dim that lasted for 200 days. Looking at the dims prior to the 15% dim and the dims that came after the 15% that a large swarm of comets could not be responsible for the dims otherwise the swarm of comets would have created a consistent dim across KIC for the entirety of the 1600 days. With the consistent dims taking place prior to the 15% a planetary infrastructure is most likely present with planets ranging in size from Super Giants causing the 22% dim to Near Earth Sized and smaller planets causing the smaller dims. Planets with possible gaseous clouds orbiting the planets or a large gas cloud present in the system of KIC that causes continual light curve fluctuations of KIC 8462.

    What would cause the calm state of KIC before during and after the 15% when the rest of the time line of KIC 8462 is fraught with chaos?

    Artificial or naturally created?

  32. Dryson

    Gravitational Waves and Planet Hunting

    A question about Gravitational Waves. When two black holes collide and create a gravitational wave would the gravitational wave be absorbed by planets and stars reveling their locations by causing a “dim” in the gravitational wave? How can gravitational waves be used to locate planets in space?

  33. Dryson

    This question was asked by a member of Trek BBS, could two gas giants have collided in system KIC 8462?

    Wouldn’t two gas giants colliding cause enough friction to be present to cause the gas to ignite?

    The theory is interesting to say the least.

    If two gas giants did collide and had planetary rings then the result could have been that fragments of the cores of both planets shattered yet still retaining some of the gas in orbit around the core orbited KIC 8462. Perhaps the 15% dim was caused by a smaller fragment of a gas core with gas causing the dim. The 22% dim could have been caused by a much larger fragment of the gas giant core with gas orbiting KIC 8462.

    The smaller dims could suggest smaller pieces of the cores or ring networks maintaining their own orbit around the larger fragments or even possibly maintaining their own orbit around KIC 8462. Some of the data suggests that dual orbits of more than one object are present orbiting KIC 8462.

    With a planetary collision between two gas giants the debris would be everywhere in the KIC system. But in order for two gas giants to collide and outside force such as a larger sun than KIC 8462 would need to be present to cause the two planets to collide. The only other force in space would be a powerful gravitational wave that might be able to knock the planets out of a regular orbit and into an irregular orbit causing the planets to collide.

  34. Dryson


    This article discusses another Star KIC 4110611 that like KIC 8462852 also had an unusual light curve. The light curve of KIC 411 later turned out to be a five star system. Something truly rare but completely natural.

    To confirm if a large swarm of comets is present in the KIC solar system have any of the stars situated behind the KIC solar system experienced any dims in light that would suggest the same large swarm of comets that caused the 15% and 22% of KIC 8462 have passed in front of those stars as well? If the swarm of comets is large enough to cause a 15% to 22% dim of KIC 8462 then the swarm of comets should be large enough to cause a much greater dim of a star further away from Earth as the swarm passed between the star and Kepler.

  35. EricSECT

    The attached link below is a luminosity vs days plot of Tabby’s Star for the last several months by amateur observers around the world who are keen on variable stars. From what I have read, the plan is that if they see a significant change in brightness, they will alert professionals at bigger scopes so that more powerful instruments can take data. Real time spectroscopy data (and hopefully IR) during a dimming event should give us more to chew on: does anyone know if this happened?

    My take on the attached plot: Not sure I see a trend, but seems a lot of scatter.

  36. Dryson

    Is there any way to determine what is taking place on the opposite or backside of a sun when a large dim such as the dims of KIC 8462 take place? If a 15% and 22% dim occurred then based on Newton’s Third Law that an event on the backside of KIC 8462 might have taken place. Could the dims of KIC 8462 therefore have been a result of something taking place on the backside of KIC 8462 that was not observable by Kepler but registered as a possible large swarm of comets?

  37. Dryson

    On October 6th, 2013, the Catalina Sky Survey discovered a small asteroid which was later designated as 2013 TX68. As part Apollo group this 30 meter (100 ft) rock is one of many Near-Earth Objects (NEOs) that periodically crosses Earth’s orbit and passes close to our planet. A few years ago, it did just that, flying by our planet at a safe distance of about 2 million km (1.3 million miles).

    Asteroid 2013 TX68 passed by the Earth in 2013. The same asteroid will pass by Earth again in 2017. Asteroid 2013 TX68 will not pass by again until 2046 and 2097.

    Starting in 2013 the data shows that asteroid TX68 took four years in its first orbit of Earth but will take 29 years for the next orbit and then 51 years on its next orbit. Comets do not fluctuate in their orbits like we see the data of KIC 8462 fluctuating.

    With this recent article I would have to say that a large planet like Jupiter with a network of rings around it is present in the KIC 8462 solar system. With the erratic dims of KIC 8462 and the erratic orbital patterns of asteroid 2013 TX68 a system wide swarm of large asteroids in KIC would be present in the solar system where their long period of orbits would suggest that the objects are moving out of the solar system.

    Hopefully this is the cause of the dims of KIC 8462. Suggestively based off of the TX68 asteroid orbiting Earth there could be not only a Jupiter sized planet but also an Earth like planet in orbit around KIC 8462.

  38. Dryson

    One area that had not been discussed as being possible is that a large planet the size of Jupiter or Planet Nine with a ring system comprised of ice chunks orbiting the planet could be orbiting KIC where every so often a rogue ice chunk comes close enough to be sublimated causing a cometary tail to form that could result in the dim of KIC 8462.

    With KIC 8462 being 1.5 times larger than our own Sun the sublimation range would be increased.

    The question is could ice chunks in orbit around Jupiter actually be possible or would the ice chunks sublimate into a large cometary tail?

    This is the image that I am seeing at KIC 8462 using the Ice Chunk Roadrunner Theory.
    The Jupiter sized planet has billions of various sized ice chunks orbiting it. As the planet comes close enough to KIC 8462 the ice chunks closest to KIC 8462 sublimate causing a large cometary cloud to form that would follow the orbit of the Jupiter like planet until the planet orbited far enough away from KIC 8462 for the sublimation to stop

  39. Dryson

    If all of the dims and increase in light have vertical lines drawn from the dim or increase to the timeline of transit and are converted into Bar Code based on their transit times creating either thick or thin lines what does the Bar Code data translate into?

  40. Swampie Retey

    I think we are an advanced society, if many of our best minds think it’s not a good idea to contact a highly advanced society don’t you think they might think the same and disguise what they have?

    If so how can we think we can rule out anything with our relatively new technologies compared to such a society? We have discovered stealth many years ago, what do you think they’ve discovered.

    My second thought is what about materials, a good way to crush asteroids, get material they need to build the super structure and let the debris help confuse others on the structure, I could also vision having some sort of cloaking device or a sort of stealth coating as mentioned above on the hypothesized structure.

    Anyway I think hiding it would be a priority and rather short sighted to dismiss such notions on the limits of our science at this time, although the advances made in the last 100 years are astounding, we are still taking baby steps. Such a civilization would be working on scientific advances for thousands if not millions of years longer than we have. In fact they probably aren’t even there anymore with the age of their sun.

    We can only assume to understand things at our level, but if we assume an advanced society could possibly be 1,500 light years away, we can’t begin to think of what they could do, doubt they’d come all this way to take our planet there are issues that may make our planet not as much of a prize that we all think. It’s getting to the older stage, the sun is getting bigger every year and we are getting close to it.

  41. dryson

    At day 140 the first major dim takes place. 119 days later at day 259 another dim takes place that is relatively the same as the dim at day 140. Mercury orbits our Sun every 88 days. The orbit of object 140 took 119 days which means a planet the size of Mercury or Venus could be orbiting KIC 8462 somewhere between the orbit of Mercury and Venus with the orbit being closer to Venus.

  42. Dryson

    I think there might also be some planets smaller than Earth that caused some of the transits.

    At days 140, 208, 1209 and 1490 there are dims that occur with a value of .0038 – .0050 / .9962 – .9950. Earth causes a dim that measures at .01/.9900. The values listed are half or slightly lower than Earth’s and could suggest planets ranging in size from a smaller Earth but larger than Mars and Mars sized planets orbiting KIC 8462.

  43. Dryson

    Do not morn….look to the light.

    Here is more proof that the dims of KIC were not caused by comets. Comets would not have been detected unless they came close enough to KIC to sublimate. If the comets were the cause of the dims of KIC then there would have been mass IR readings taken of the solar radiation from KIC interacting with the large swarm of comets.

    Such a large gas cloud would have easily have been recognized by Kepler and Tabetha’s team.

    Comets orbit in the same plane and direction of planets.
    Many comets in orbital resonance with Neptune.

    Case 2: Suddenly all the other planets disappeared from our solar system

    Again, if the outer planets did not exist then Earth would have been exposed to a series of encounters with comets and asteroids that would’ve wiped out life on earth. It was thought that one such encounter had in fact wiped out the Dinosaurs.

    Few scenarios where the Jupiter took a serious hit.

    a) May 17th, 1994. Comet Shoemaker – Levy 9 collided with Jupiter. The impact was estimated to have released an energy equivalent to 6,000,000 megatons of TNT (600 times the world’s nuclear arsenal).

    b) July 19th, 2009. A small asteroid of size 200 to 500 meters in diameter impacted with Jupiter creating a crater of about 190 million square kilometres – approximate to the size of our Pacific Ocean. The impact released an energy approximately equivalent to 12,500–13,000 Megatons of TNT, over a million times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

    In 2009, it was shown that the presence of a smaller planet at Jupiter’s position in the Solar System might increase the impact rate of comets on the Earth significantly. A planet of Jupiter’s mass still seems to provide increased protection against asteroids, but the total effect on all orbital bodies within the Solar System is unclear.

    In roughly 5 billion years, the Sun will cool and expand outward many times its current diameter (becoming a red giant), before casting off its outer layers as a planetary nebula and leaving behind a stellar remnant known as a white dwarf. In the far distant future, the gravity of passing stars will gradually reduce the Sun’s retinue of planets. Some planets will be destroyed, others ejected into interstellar space.

    More than enough instances where comets have their orbits affected by planets in the same solar system.
    So if the large swarm of comets did cause the dims of KIC because of the size and amount of comets needed to create the dims of KIC then there could possible be a an Oort type cloud as well as similar Kuiper Belt in KIC as well.

  44. Tyler Berry

    Good to see so many minds at work. As a 19 year old trying to pay for college it inspires me to have even of had my theory critiqued by the frontrunners of my field!

  45. Dryson

    Comets should be stricken from the books regarding KIC 8462852.

    The large comet swarm theory of causing the dims to KIC should be stricken from the books for the following reasons. If the objects causing the dim of KIC were comets then there would be other orbital bodies within the same solar system of KIC where the gravity of such planets would over time either break the large swarm of comets up or cause the large swarm of comets to break up and then fall into an orbital pattern around the planets the swarm would have come into contact with.

    Without other planets in the KIC system the comets would have been caught by KIC 8462852’s gravity and orbited the Sun evaporating long ago.

  46. Dryson

    I think you might be interested in taking a look at Stonehenge. How I have seen some of the illustrations for the Dyson Swarm or Spheres seems rather typical of how the stones around Stonehenge are arranged. Look at the shadows cast by the stones. They seem almost reminiscent of the same dims of KIC 8462852.

  47. Dryson

    In one paper by Tabetha she states that transit times were between 5 to 80 days. At the lower end of the transit values are 2.5 day transits. If it takes Earth 13 hours to transit across our Sun then it might take maybe 13-17 hours to transit KIC 8462852. If it takes Jupiter 33 hours to transit could the distance that the objects are from KIC possibly be in the range of Saturn to Neptune? The 80 day dim does not look like it would be caused by an asteroid or large swarm of comets. Taking 80 days to transit across KIC is an extremely slow moving object.

    A new theory on Dyson Swarms or Dyson Spheres. Why put them in orbit around a star like KIC using conventional thrusters and attitude correction programs? Instead simple place the Dyson Sphere unit on a transiting asteroid.

    I still do not see a large swarm of comets causing a dim of 22% or transiting KIC for 80 days.

  48. Dryson

    Okay lets put this frame into the projector and see how it looks.

    We have dims of KIC 8462852 that start out very small in the beginning that over the course of 800 days or 2.19 years transit across the surface of KIC. At day 800 the 15% dim occurs. Then for the next 700 days or 1.91 years relatively the same dims recorded before the 15% take place. Then at day 1540 the 22% dim starts to take place and lasts for close to 35 days.

    What it looks like is there might be a planet with an orbital value of having an elliptical orbit around KIC based on the time between each dim being between 1.91 and 2.19 years. Possibly the elliptical orbit value orbiting KIC about .91 to 1.19 years further than Earth.

    This would put the orbit of the objects at a little past the orbit of Mars at 1.88 years compared to 1.91 years for the 15% dim and then .28 years further for the 22% dim . I would have to say that something is definitely orbiting KIC that is very large that is not a swarm of comets but could be a swarm of debris orbiting a Super Earth that has cleared out all of the smaller debris in it’s path. Based on the objects orbital value from KIC 8462852 the objects are within the Goldilocks Zone from KIC. The transits however are still odd where the objects take between 2.5 to 5.0 days to transit across KIC. It only takes Jupiter 33 hours to transit across the Sun. These objects are taking days to transit and are closer to KIC.

    There weren’t any IR signatures that would tell that tale of an impact nor was there any signs of cometary tails or dust that would have glowed as it transited KIC 8462852 either.

    Another possibility is that the dims could have resulted from several planets transiting at nearly the same time and would have aligned their orbits in such a manner to cause the small dim as they aligned and then the larger dim as they began to misalign.

    It’s either a planet with an asteroid belt orbiting it that has cleaned the debris away or it is several planets close to KIC that aligned so perfectly their alignments created the 15% and 22% dims of KIC.

    It can’t be comets because KIC has been being studied since the 1890’s. Comets would have showed their tails within the last 127 years that KIC has been being watched.

    On day 1491-92 there is a .007%(.993) dim of KIC 8462852. This could be a Jupiter sized planet or Super Earth. Jupiter causes a 1%(.99) dim in our Sun when it transits. Day 1491-92 is at .007% approx. which is .003% smaller than 1% possibly making the object at day 1491-92 a Super Earth within the Goldilocks Zone.

  49. Dryson

    Here is something interesting that happened to me today. I was driving home from work and and came over the top of a hill. The Sun was right in line with where I was looking and blinded me. While looking at the Sun I noticed that when I looked away real quick or blinked I could see a perfect circular outline of the Sun. Needless to say I every time that I blinked I could then see black circles or dark spots where the sun had temporarily burned an image into my eyes that went away after about five minutes. What was interesting is that the burned image of the sun had five distinct locations of where I had moved my eyes to try and avoid the direct sunlight. In fact the positioning looked like a transit image with two of the burns being side by side. I thought it was interesting to say the least.

    “Momma always told me not to look into the eyes of the Sun…but momma…that’s where the fun is.”

  50. Dryson

    From the Corona Hole article – Each time a coronal hole rotates by the Earth we can measure the particles flowing out of the hole as a high-speed stream, another source of space weather.

    There could have been two solar flares present on either side of the 15% dim that would explain the increase in brightness where after the first solar flare a coronal hole formed followed by another solar flare.

    Hopefully what we are witnessing on KIC is some indentcation that a habitable planet with life on it is orbiting KIC perhaps with its own ring of stellar debris orbiting the planet where the habitable planet has figured out how to harness the energy of their sun to power colonies that are further out in the their Universe. If it can be somehow proven that Earth might have something to do with causing a coronal hole then template for such an interaction can be used with KIC.

  51. Dryson

    Coronal Holes

    There are no signs of dust or ice particles nor are there any IR indications of collisions.

    The Ring Network is the second best choice with Coronal Holes being the first.

    If we make it past the Coronal Holes then it has to be extraterrestrial in nature.

    When we come to day 1540 on the timeline of KIC there is a mirrored transit event that takes place. From the data I looked through transits don’t mirror their self.

  52. Dryson

    We are having a discussion at Trek BBS related to KIC 8462852. We have been running through all kinds of scenarios bashing our heads into each other to come up with solutions. We have ruled the dim of KIC not to be related to comets due to no cometary tail and glowing dust as well as the transit across KIC being between 2.5 to 5 days as being slower than an Earth and Jupiter transit of 13 and 33 hours to be a comet or large swarm of Gooners. The most recent discussion is revolving around a large ring network possibly orbiting a planet or an asteroid belt like the one our solar system has. Still if the objects were related to a large ring network then a planet the size of Jupiter would have to be present given the transits across KIC are between 2.5 and five days in length.

    What if something else took place instead?

    “Demon Drop” – This relates to my “Roller Coaster Theory ” of the objects loopty looing between suns or similar to the Dosey Doe dance but didn’t seen plausible.

    Lets say an asteroid belt like the one we have in our solar system between Mars and Jupiter was present in KIC. Could a large enough collision between asteroids in the belt itself cause KIC to dim but not show any signs of IR associated with such a collision due to the distance between KIC and the potential asteroid belt?

  53. Dryson

    Still more proof that what caused the dim of KIC was not a large swarm of comets.

    Grey Clouds
    Clouds can also look dark or gray. This can be caused a number of different ways. But it is also due to perception by our eyes. A light gray cloud on a bright white background will look much darker than the same cloud on a dark or black background, in which case it might look white and bright.

    A cloud can look dark or gray because it is partially transparent and the blue sky behind it can be seen through the cloud. This will happen in light wispy clouds with little water content, and more often in ice crystal clouds. Ice crystal clouds can spread out more as the ice crystals last longer once they move out

    of saturated air (air with 100% relative humidity) due to it taking longer for ice crystals to sublimate (change directly from ice to water vapor), than water drops to evaporate.

    Its obvious that a comet wasn’t present that caused the dim of KIC because the ice crystals would have caused the dim of KIC wouldn’t they? But since there was not any glow recorded due to a cometary tail involving ice crystals then the dim of KIC was not caused by a large swarm of comets.

  54. Dryson

    Its interesting that dim at day 220 takes place again at day 1540, 1320 days apart. What’s even more interesting is that the dim at day 220 and 1540 are nearly identical meaning that the same object caused the dims to take place both times.

    Based on the data that I looked which involves the light charts of KIC the objects take anywhere from 2.5 to five days to transit across KIC. That is a slow ass object seeing as how it takes Jupiter only 33 hours to transit across our Sun and Earth only 13 hours.

    A 2.5 to 5 day transit would put the object closer to somewhere between a transit that resides between Saturn and Neptune. A 2.5 to 5 day transit across KIC where a cometary tail would be formed would be close enough for KIC to basically evaporate much of the massive comet swarm to cause a cometary tail.

    A comet tail—and coma—are features visible in comets when they are illuminated by the Sun and may become visible from Earth when a comet passes through the inner Solar System. As a comet approaches the inner Solar System, solar radiation causes the volatile materials within the comet to vaporize and stream out of the nucleus, carrying dust away with them. Separate tails are formed of dust and gases, becoming visible through different phenomena; the dust reflects sunlight directly and the gases glow from ionisation. Most comets are too faint to be visible without the aid of a telescope, but a few each decade become bright enough to be visible to the naked eye.

    ..the dust reflects sunlight directly and the gases glow from ionisation.
    With such a super massive comet there would have been an equally super massive amount of dust and gases present. Gas that would glow from ionization of which there was NO GLOW.

    Just like Tabetha asks where is the Flux?
    I ask where is the glow from the dust and gases relating to a massive comet swarm?

  55. Andrew P

    How about a huge cloud of debris from a planetary collision in an orbit very far from the star (or co-orbiting the star and its companion)? If that cloud is at a low temperature of 3-5K and just happens to be in the line of sight between our solar system and Tabby’s star, we would see occasional occultations and a gradual dimming as we look through denser portions of the cloud. There would also be little or no IR if the objects were cold enough. Such a cloud should also dim any star that is almost just behind Tabby’s star from our point of view, as well.

  56. EricSECT

    Thank you Jason Wright for clarification.

    I misunderstood: What I assumed was a “gnats ass” change in Tabby’s output is actually 20% dimming since 1890! Appears to be good data. And the puzzling lack of infrared, which I at first considered evidence AGAINST ETI technology, may instead turn out to be indirect evidence SUPPORTING something “unnatural”. Wheres the flux? The missing flux could be (1) Directed, away from us or (2) Emitted at a very low temperature, in an IR window we can’t see or (3) Stored and/or converted into something: ie, work is being extracted (but not at 100% efficiency) Can anyone think of a “natural” way to do 1 through 3? How about combinations? Combine 1 & 2: Somehow, naturally, it is directed away from us at a window we can’t see?

  57. Dryson

    I was reading an article called The Sun’s Evolution from Northwestern University

    From it I took these notes –

    The dependence on mass comes about because the sheer weight of the star’s mass determines its central pressure, which in turn determines its rate of nuclear burning (higher pressure = more collisions = more energy)

    There must be a process taking place within the star itself where an external force is causing the central pressure in the star to reduce thus causing less pressure=less collisions=less energy=dim in brightness. After the event passes the pressure on KIC’s central mass returns to a normal state where normal luminosity is regained.

    A force would have to be pulling on the exterior of KIC to reduce the central pressure that would cease then cause the star to return to a normal output.

    It is also the case that the gas pressure at any depth in the star (which also depends on the temperature at that depth) must balance the weight of the gas above it.

    And finally, of course, the total energy generated in the core must equal the total energy radiated at the surface.

    If the energy being radiated equals the total output of the core of KIC which is equal at the surface and the dim of KIC has been recorded at 15% to 20% dims then something is taking place at the core of KIC 8462852 that equates to a 15% to 20% loss of output in the energy that the core is creating but then somehow someway is able regain the loss in at the core to return the energy output to normal

    A star which meets all these constraints is said to be in hydrostatic equilibrium. Hydrostatic equilibrium has the fortunate effect that it tends to make stars stable. Should a star’s core be compressed, the compression causes nuclear burning to increase, which generates more heat, which forces up the pressure and makes the star expand.

    Likewise, if a star’s core should be decompressed, then nuclear burning decreases, which cools the star and brings the pressure down, and thus the star contracts and again returns to equilibrium.

    Bizarrely, this emptying of the central fuel tank makes the star brighter, not dimmer, because the intense pressure at the surface of the core causes the hydrogen there to burn even faster. This more than takes up the slack from the fuel-exhausted center. The star’s brightening not only continues, it accelerates.

    Based on these explanations it would appear that KIC’s core is being decompressed that causes the star to cool and create a dim in brightness and is then being compressed to return the star to normal brightness. Yet the star is not expanding or contracting. But it doesn’t appear to be naturally occurring but a more controlled event.


    If fuel is being taken from the core of KIC then based on the article the surface pressure would cause the hydrogen at the core to burn even faster causing the brightening of KIC to continue and accelerate back to a normal state.

    It’s almost as if a steady hand is taking fuel from the core itself and replacing the fuel with elements that would burn in the same manner thus reducing the increased pressure and returning the star to normal.

    If hydrogen was being used more rapidly at the core then KIC would increase in brightness equally which would have been observed by Kepler.

    Where’s the Flux?

  58. Dryson

    From the paper written by Bradley E. Schaefer – all this is produced by one physical mechanism. This one mechanism does not appear as any isolated catastrophic event in the last century, but rather must be some ongoing process with continuous effects.

    The only physical and non alien related continuous effect that would cause the dim of KIC 8462852 could possibly be the result of the residue left behind by a micro black hole that would interact with the star.

    In the event that it was aliens I think the following ideas might suggest what they are doing.

    1. Aliens might be conducting experiments on KIC. If they were able to cause the dim of KIC and then introduce fuel back into KIC that raised its level of luminosity then the aliens could be close to actually creating an artificial star by adding fuel to each layer of the star building a star that would be necessary to sustain their life on potentially habitable planets with region of temperature that the aliens would be comfortable living with based on the heat generated by the star.

    2. The aliens could be siphoning off fuel from KIC to possibly fuel their own star with.

  59. EricSECT

    A breaking, new paper on Tabby’s Star:

    Re: This paper seems to throw water on the comet swarm suggestion–However: (1) Data points: How many old plates are we comparing? Hopefully several. (2) Even so, is it reasonable to compare 2015-ish data (which is CCD collected and IC stored) with 120 year old data (collected and stored on a chemically etched plate, which is more more susceptible to degradation and thus misinterpretation)? To obtain gnat’s ass magnitude changes? As another has pointed out: Is this star dimming at ALL colors? Because THAT would be very unusual. There is still an absence of IR to explain from any viable hypothesis. There is also a great suggestion afloat to use the HST to concentrate on Tabby’s star and look for smaller duration events.

  60. Dryson

    I don’t still don’t think it was a swarm of comets. I was reading an article that discussed how smaller dims in KIC preceded the first 15% dim of KIC. The smaller dims in the light of KIC if a comet had caused the dim would have been part of the cometary tail. If the swarm of comets was being pulled in a backwards transit across KIC then the transit backwards for what ever reason would have caused the tail debris or the smaller dims in light to be viewed first.

    A swarm able to cause a 15% and then a 22% dim in the light of KIC would had to have been enormous given the fact that Jupiter at 139,822 km in diameter only causes around a 1% dim our Sun when it transits across the Sun.

    Comet LINEAR had a tail that was 100,000 km. If the objects that caused the dim of KIC had been a swarm of comets and given the amount of dim caused there would have been a rather large cometary tail maybe one million kilometers in length. If the object was a swarm of comets that might have impacted together causing the 22% dim in light then there would have been cometary debris left behind that would have caused dims after the impact took place.

    Then again maybe the dims were caused by several large comet swarms transiting at the same time with the 22% dim in light being the result of the swarms passing in front of each other.

    Comet McNaught is thought to be 25 km in length. Just for practical application lets see how many approximate Comet McNaughts would fill the diameter of Jupiter. This is a linear measure from point A to point B. If we divide the diameter of Jupiter, 139,822 km by McNaughts diameter of 25 km we have 5,593 McNaught sized comets that would equal the diameter of Jupiter. If we were to pack these comets together into a swarm the swarm might be around 17,478 km in diameter or 1/8th the diameter of Jupiter. There is still not enough cometary volume when using comet McNaught.

    With a comet swarm this large as well there would have been charged gas that would have been present as well. With a comet swarm this large the solar winds would have been effected as well which I am not certain if Kepler was able to record.

  61. Dryson

    I don’t still don’t think it was a swarm of comets. I was reading an article that discussed how smaller dims in KIC preceded the first 15% dim of KIC. The smaller dims in the light of KIC if a comet had caused the dim would have been part of the cometary tail. If the swarm of comets was being pulled in a backwards transit across KIC then the transit backwards for what ever reason would have caused the tail debris or the smaller dims in light to be viewed first.

    A swarm able to cause a 15% and then a 22% dim in the light of KIC would had to have been enormous given the fact that Jupiter at 139,822 km in diameter only causes around a 1% dim our Sun when it transits across the Sun.

    Comet LINEAR had a tail that was 100,000 km. If the objects that caused the dim of KIC had been a swarm of comets and given the amount of dim caused there would have been a rather large cometary tail maybe one million kilometers in length. If the object was a swarm of comets that might have impacted together causing the 22% dim in light then there would have been cometary debris left behind that would have caused dims after the impact took place.

    Then again maybe the dims were caused by several large comet swarms transiting at the same time with the 22% dim in light being the result of the swarms passing in front of each other.

    Comet McNaught is thought to be 25 km in length. Just for practical application lets see how many approximate Comet McNaughts would fill the diameter of Jupiter. This is a linear measure from point A to point B. If we divide the diameter of Jupiter, 139,822 km by McNaughts diameter of 25 km we have 5,593 McNaught sized comets that would equal the diameter of Jupiter. If we were to pack these comets together into a swarm the swarm might be around 17,478 km in diameter or 1/8th the diameter of Jupiter. There is still not enough cometary volume when using comet McNaught.

    With a comet swarm this large as well there would have been charged gas that would have been present as well. With a comet swarm this large the solar winds would have been effected as well which I am not certain if Kepler was able to record.

  62. EricSECT

    Obviously, we need more data in optical and IR and anything else we can muster. For at least 5 more years. Is anyone doing a dedicated observation of Tabby’s Star, right now? Can the required observations be done from the ground or must it be in orbit?

  63. Dryson

    Another question that I have is this. When Earth transits across our own Sun do the millions of satellites in orbit around Earth cause an increase in the dim of the Sun at all?

    How does Earth look now in 2016 transiting across the Sun with all of the satellites in orbit compared to a transit around the Sun where Earth does not have any satellites in orbit.

  64. Laurence Leszcynski

    Dr. Kaku stated that we can discern the shape of the object that is dimming KIC8462852. He stated that it is not a sphere or curved. Is this true?

  65. Dryson

    With the objects creating a 15% dim and thought to be comets, where is the dim light from the debris of the tail that would be left behind that would still possibly cause a residual dim in light until the debris vaporized?

  66. Dryson

    If the dim doesn’t take place again and with an object that large causing the dim’s to take place then the objects might not have been natural as logic would suggest that the objects would have remained in a transit around KIC unless what caused the 2nd large dim was the debris of a collision. But like many have said where are the signs of the collision? Even if the larger grouping were a swarm of comets that had broken off from the main comet there still would had to have been signs of a collision.

    I found this which might be interesting. If you look at the 15% dim as the wavelength where it begins to level out before the dim of 15% there is small dim preceded by a slight increase that spans 144 days. Now if you move to the right side of the 15% dim you will see the 144 day event mirrors itself again with the lesser dim taking place again with the increase then occurring at a 50 day interval. Not nearly half of the first event that took place right before the 15% dim. Whatever caused the mirrored events to take place had to do with an object orbiting KIC to create the mirrored events. A naturally orbiting object such as comets would not create a mirrored increase or decrease in the dim of KIC. Something with a more consistent energy wavelength. If you were to connect the locations that I mentioned it would in fact form the bottom chord of a circle almost perfectly. Now once the chord has been discovered it should be made into a straight to determine the actual variances between the events to see if they match…something.

  67. dryson

    The idea of a large swarm of comets blocking out 22% of KIC’s light is not feasible because of the two year time difference between each data recording that Kepler took.

    Tabby’s Star is about 1 1/2 times our Sun. Our Sun’s diameter is 1.392 million km. That would make Tabby’s Star roughly 2.088 million km in diameter.

    The distance from the Sun to Mars is 227,900,000 km. Subtract 2.088 million km from the Sun to Mars to compensate for Tabby’s Star size and the new distance is 225,812,000 million km.

    Not much of distance increase but if data consisted of a four year recording where in that time the two major recordings were two years apart and a body was in orbit around KIC then the orbit would have been a little bit further than Mars at 1.88 years. Given the size of KIC and its increased amount of heat released comets orbiting KIC would have vaporized being that close to KIC where cometary debris would have been present and very noticeable coming from an object large enough to block out 15% and 22% of KIC’s light.

    During the four years of data gathering there were six decrease in KIC’s light of around 2%. Which are the very small dips on the graph. Given the size of KIC and that Jupiter would causes a 1% dip in light when it passes across KIC’s surface the six 2% dips could be attributed to planets 1x larger than Jupiter passing across the surface of KIC.

    The 15% mark on the graph is the first dip of KIC that is recorded. The smaller transits however do remain constant right up and till the 22% dip in light is experienced. Then a 3% and finally a 7% dip in KIC’s light with numerous smaller dips occurring more frequently around the 22% dip.

    To block out 15% of KIC’s light the planet or object have to be 313,200 km in diameter. 15% of 2.088 million km is 313,200 km. Jupiter is 139,822 km in diameter. The object would therefore be 173,378 km in diameter larger than Jupiter.

    To block out 22% of KIC’s light the planet or object have to be 459,360 km in diameter. 22% of 2.088 million km is 459,360 km. Jupiter is 139,822 km in diameter. The object would therefore be 319,538 km in diameter larger than Jupiter.

    The math doesn’t seem correct for some reason. How can an object just slighter larger than Jupiter or Object 15 cause a 15% dip in light when Jupiter only causes a 1% dip in light as well as Object 22 nearly triple the size of Jupiter being able to cause a 22% dip in light?

    I think I did the math correctly. I did a Reduced Diameter check where the reduced diameter is subtracted from the original diameter and the result divided by the original diameter.

    2.088 mil km – 139,822 km and then divided by the original 2.088 returns a result of .933304% or 93.33304% of the sun light of KIC visible with .066696% or 6.6696% of KIC’s light blocked by Jupiter.

    2.088 mil km – 313,200 km and then divided by the original 2.088 returns a result of .85 or 85% of the sun light of KIC visible with .15 or 15% of KIC’s light blocked out by Object 15.

    2.088 mil km – 459,360 km and then divided by the original 2.088 returns a result of .78 or 78% of the sun light of KIC visible with .22 or 22% of KIC’s light blocked out by Object 22.

    A comet or swarm of comets larger than Jupiter does not seem feasible.

  68. jtw13 Post author

    No. Dr. Marengo’s paper confirms the lack of IR excess already reported by Dr. Boyajian in the discovery paper.

  69. Dmitry Novoseltsev

    On the right side of the first picture (to the right of the mark 1500) will always keep for darkening poistenie brightness relative to the mean value.
    It’s weird from the point of view of the cometary hypothesis. Studies have shown “Rosetta” cometary nuclei are very dark.
    But this is very much like the reflection from a solar sail, the setting for the star.
    Perhaps someone from American experts on the sails (for example, Gregory Matloff) could comment on this option.

  70. Robert Matthews

    Have you tried modelling the light curve as caused by transits by a low-albedo monolithic object, with dimensions in the ratio 1: 4: 9 ? Just a thought…..

  71. jtw13 Post author

    I’m not sure about that. Do you have a model? I’m actually a fan of the ring hypothesis, despite lots of evidence that rules it out, but I don’t see what could cause precession on timescales that could make this work.

  72. EricSECT

    Hmmmm…. Looks like a corrupt pixel on Kepler has been ruled out …so this is a real light curve. We need to observe WTF 001 and it’s companion for another 5 years, in at least visible light. And as sensitive as possible in infra-red would be nice. The proximity (800 AU-ish) of the companion star makes the probability high that they are a gravitationally bound pair, but this needs to be PROVEN if possible (or relative velocities of the two nailed down) for the exo-comet swarm hypothesis to live. Need to disprove that one star in foreground makes it look like a bound pair. But…. Even a gigantic one time swarm of comets on a hyperbolic pass by Tabby’s star… seems that would kick up at LOT of IR …which we don’t see! If it’s a solid mass that obscures up 22% then it is several times the size of Jupiter. If it is a diffuse object (but there is no excess IR!) it is even larger than that, depending on the density. A Dyson swarm may turn out to be the least contrived explanation (Occum’s razor).

  73. jtw13 Post author

    Yes, a bad pixel could not be the problem because multiple teams, including Boyajian’s team and NASA’s Kepler team, have examined the pixel level data and verified that all pixels show the same dimming, and because the star landed on different pixels at different times where dimming events occurred.

  74. Eric SECT

    I am not buying the “gravity darkening” hypothesis: the duration of the big transits are too long (up to 15 days) and too deep (22% dimming). For the same reason, I don’t think that the comet hypothesis works either. There may be a planet transiting in a 20 to 25 day orbit atop the data, dimming by about a percent. And sure looks like a one time ringed planet transit at about day 1520, if you zoom in. Are we absolutely sure that this data is not contaminated by an intermittent instrument failure, say a bad pixel on Kepler?

  75. Keith Henson

    I have worked on the design of large structures in space since 1975.,

    to the present:

    One of the odd things about KIC 8462852 is the lack of IR from whatever is intercepting the light.

    A rationally designed thermal type power satellites radiates the IR north and south of the ecliptic (to keep sunlight off the low temperature radiators). Telescopes a good fraction of the size of the star are another possible megastructure, and again, they would reflect light north and south to keep cool and we would not see the IR.

    It’s hardly proof, but a continuing failure to detect excess IR would be consistent with megascale structures.

  76. George

    This is all very exciting. In the referred paper is stated that in the most promising theory a family of exocomets (orbiting around the star?) is blocking the light.

    This would then be an immensely huge swarm of comets relatively closely clustered together? Do you know of any estimates for the size, density or shape of such an object?

  77. jtw13 Post author

    There is a small star a few thousand AU from this one. The comet theory is partly based on the discovery of that star.

  78. Dryson

    Some are saying the unusual activity around KIC is because of a star that passed to close to the outer portion of the solar system and stirred up the cometary debris.

    First off where is that star that stirred up the cometary debris? It should be relatively easy to find if it is in fact a rogue star.

    Secondly with outer cometary debris being stirred up isn’t that a good chance that solar system might contain a habitable planet or two? Earth is surrounded by the Oort Cloud that has thousands of chunks frozen ice water and cometary capable objects. Perhaps what we are seeing is what it would look like from the outside in looking at a solar system similar to our own.

    Still….where is that rogue star?

  79. Brian

    Is there an estimate for when the next “deep event” will occur?

    In all the information circling the web about this star, I have not see any mention of when the next dimming is expected. That seems rather pertinent, since observing it with new instruments will answer many questions.

  80. bfreephd

    @Tyler Berry – i was thinking exactly what you are thinking. did you ever use one of those coin-operated binoculars at a tourist site? people use them to view a distant object. if someone walks in front of the lenses, the view momentarily dips. it has nothing to do with the distant object, but everything to do with what has come between. This also happens if a bird flies in front of the lens. So, maybe it is something between us and that star.

    could it be satellites? for radio seti, they tune to different places to determine if the source is earth-based. were the light readings from this start taken with only one source (one telescope)? if so = big problem. you have no secondary confirmation capability.

    could it be the way that light is emitted and detected over vast distances? is there a massive object between us and this star? such that it warps or bends light? something we can’t yet detect?

    What about sun spots? Could it be something on the surface of the star itself?

  81. carlos a santos

    I read recently that SETI pointed its array of radio telescopes towads 8462852 and received a signal, and being analyzed.

  82. jtw13 Post author

    It’s very hard to get an interstellar occulter model to work. In order for the occulter to be physically small, it would have to be much closer to the Solar System than the star. In that case, the parallax from Kepler’s motion around the Sun would enter into things, and you’re back to large mutual velocities, which means short timescales.

  83. jtw13 Post author

    Yes, we’ve tried something like this and it doesn’t quite work. It’s also inconsistent with the age of the star. It also doesn’t explain all of the other events.

  84. jtw13 Post author

    The star is not amenable to detailed Doppler study. Course Doppler work implies no close stellar companions.

  85. jtw13 Post author

    We don’t know of any planets. I don’t know of any photometric campaigns for alpha Cen, but I’m sure they’ve been tried.

  86. carlos a santos

    Are there any planets around 8462852? Interestingly on our own backyard, the Alpha Centauri system nothing like this had been detected there, I wonder if anything is hapoeninh in there, not likely due the binary nature of the system, but what if. Any efforts outthere to analyze alpha centaury system in the same manner as 8462852?

  87. carlos a santos

    Another idea is to block the light of the star in order to identify the size of whatever is orbiting Tabbys star. The ” alien ” idea is a possibilty only after the natural phenomena occurrences are exhausted. Please lets keep the UFO crowd out of what is going on around the star, no need for bad astronomy. I m not sure if this was brought up, but what is happ around the star could be an unknown astronomical process not yet discovered, but I do hope whatever is blocking the light around the star is artficial in nature thus being the greatest discovery in human history, priving we are not alone. Hopefully astronomers from space agencies tone down their narrowminded view in asserting that what is happening around the star is natural, they dislike the ” artificial ” possability /idea/hypothesis.

  88. carlos a santos

    Not since the WOW signal so much attention gas been given to a star. The cometary debris theory does not correspond as an explanation to what is happening around Tabby”s star. No dust detected, no radiation given off. The colliding planets theory is far fetched as well. The lack of dust around this mature F type star is the clue that whatever is blocking its light to as much 20 percent; can be artificial in nature. Why not point the Huble space telescope to the star? Another idea is to block the light of the star in order

  89. Andy

    From what I’ve read I think it’s most plausible that there is a much closer object passing infront of the line of sight of the telescope to KIC 8462 which is blocking it, posibly another planet orbiting another star in a rather eccentric orbit?

  90. Mike P

    Don’t the three groups of deep dips at 1500 suggest the transit of one planet with an inner ring (represented by the dip at 1540 composed of a central dip with two symmetrically distributed, closely set “dip wings”) and a very broad, strongly absorptive outer ring (the deep dips at 1520 and 1570 representing the two transits of the outer ring)? The 1540 dip is not perfectly centered between 1520 and 1570 because the planet’s transit is not centered in front of KIC 8462852 and the ring is at an angle to the star system’s ecliptic so that the two transits of the outer ring (1520 and 1570) obscures light non-symmetrically from the 1540 central dip. The broad spiky dips at 1520 and 1570 indicate the outer ring is composed of a number of subrings.

  91. Erik Anderson


    I find the thought of potentially discovering alien civilizations in our galaxy by looking at fluctuating starlight absolutely fascinating. I know the possibility is remote, but it’s still a fun way to pass the time! I’ve taken to clicking madly through light curves on planet hunters and found something I thought was interesting.

    What caught my attention is the fact that unlike most pulsating stars, the curves at the top and bottom are shaped differently. Namely, they’re flatter at the peaks than they are at the troughs. When I look at the peaks my mind immediately tries to run linear regression, and I’m left with a star that has a fairly regular luminescence (kind of wavy) with multiple objects passing in front of it regularly. Could it also be an eclipsing binary? I’m not sure, because the dip in luminescence isn’t that big and I think there are also a couple planetary transits (do binary systems have planets?)

    Anyways, is this an interesting system? Do you have an idea of what it is?

  92. Mike Le Page

    Hi Jason, thanks for the response.

    Okay, scratch the idea about it being in our solar system, but still, a does a very low *apparent* mutual velocity for the occulter and the star *necessarily* imply that the occulter is in orbit around KIC 8462852? I mean, the closer the object is to us, the smaller it has to be. Weighing up the odds between there being something in orbit capable of producing a 22% occultation but isn’t visible in it’s own right (a stellar-mass black hole perhaps?) versus a rogue planet (let’s say with rings) that just happens to be going at the right speed but is somewhere in the middle of that 1500 light year gap…

    Anyway, good luck figuring it out, and I look forward to hearing what happens :)

  93. MMAZZA

    WTF star…that’s clever. You have such a fun job. Thank you for all the work you do, and for sharing it with us.

  94. Dmitry Novoseltsev

    Were any attempts to estimate the mass of objects around the star?
    They are more like a solid body type of comet nuclei, or hollow or film (solar sail)?
    I mean something like that.
    And yet – are there any attempts to look jets, about which I wrote earlier? Ion jet of electric solar sails (ESS) has a composition identical to the solar wind of the star, and is distinctly different from the comet tail of neutral gas, seen in the optical range.

  95. Pete Mancini

    Really enjoying the sensible research and responses to questions here. I think that if the hypothesis of this being an artificial megastructure is true it signals that the creators do not fear any other nearby threats, either because they don’t exist or they have catelogued them well enough to assess that risk/return is balanced. I have been working on a game theory to explain the Fermi paradox and so far have concluded that paranoid hostile civilizations would never signal but that friendly networking civilizations would never broadcast frequently from their home star. In order to make contact they would offset broadcast in interstellar space and make cautious communication attempts. The exercise turned me around on Hawking’s warning about what NASA, SETI, and ESA are doing. The exercise fits the data points I started with, which include Wow! signal.

    This latest interesting finding is really exciting. I would love to see the raw data and see if it’s possible to determine candidates for the full shape.

    Has it been considered that it is semi-transparent or polarized? It might help explain the lack of flat bottoms on the curves. Could it be a telescope using the gravitation of the star? Anyway, just wild ideas. Keep up the good work.

  96. jtw13 Post author

    Regarding a Solar System occulter:

    The occulter would also be in orbit around the Sun, so it would not occult the star once every Kepler orbit. Anything in our Solar System occulting the star would likely occult other nearby stars not because it’s big but because it’s moving. There’s no reason it would come back exactly to this star and only this star, from Kepler’s perspective.

    There are events occurring throughout the 4 year Kepler mission, not just a few events spaced by (roughly) two years.

    The “exactly 2 years” bit is a red herring — Kepler does not orbit the sun every year or every two years, so there is no coincidence to explain.

    Anything with a sharp edge in the solar system would create diffraction when occulting the star, which we do not see

    The timescales are all wrong: it takes days for the star to get dimmer, which suggests a very low mutual velocity for the occulter and the star, implying it is in orbit around the star.

    The “soft” ingress and egresses of the star means you have to invoke a “fuzzy” absorber without sharp edges. It would presumably be visible as a dark part of the sky in deep imagery of this part of the sky.

  97. Mike Le Page

    Hi Jason, I’d like to second Tyler Berry’s question about potential occluding dust cloud/objects much closer to us than the light source. If the objects were in deep space, wouldn’t that explain why they weren’t being heated up much (i.e. no IR as is seen)?

    Actually, given that the two main dips are almost exactly 2 Earth years apart and Kepler is in a Earth-trailing heliocentric orbit with a semi-major axis of ~1AU, what are the chances this is an occluding object *much* closer to us? Something in our own Oort cloud perhaps? Far enough away not to occlude other stars in Kepler’s view, but a dusty comet with smaller satellites that cause small occlusions elsewhere in Kepler’s orbit, but one main body that occluded by chance twice.

    My back of the envelope math on that (referencing Wikipedia) says that Kepler could see a bit less than 900 stars/degree^2 so the average distance between stars in the star field (I think) is a little over 2 arc-minutes. Given that Kepler ranges through an orbit with diameter 2AU, I think that puts the minimum distance the object could be away (so as not to interfere with neighbouring stars in Kepler’s star field) at ~1718 AU, and probably upwards of that. To work out how big (or how small) the occluding object could be I worked out the apparent diameter of the sun at 1500 light years, and worked out how big the occluding object would be if it was half that apparent diameter at 1718 AU. I got 126 km across (haven’t double checked my working though so I may be wrong). Certainly seems more likely to have a dusty comet that big in our own Oort cloud than many (most?) other explanations.

  98. RainOnTheParade

    Those aliens seem to be VERY interested in Earth since they make their star twinkle once every second Earth year. Exactly! There are two Earth years between each of the three periods of anomalies. The anomalies are getting larger because the failing CCD element is degrading with time. Every second year I suppose can be explained with how the telescope is turned as it orbits the Sun.

    “Alien superstructures”, “comet clouds”, pfui!

  99. Plan

    Reading this reminds me that modern astronomy is just as crude as brute-forcing mass into orbit using rocket fuel. You guys know almost nothing, and the best you can do is stumble into discoveries by looking at a negative — the absence of something — instead of the thing you’re actually looking for.

    To top it off, the next step in investigating KIC 8462 is using antiquated technology to search for signals we think aliens might broadcast — if they inexplicably used an archaic form of communication that we’re already abandoning. So I suppose we’re assuming that a civilization capable of building ringworlds or Dyson spheres still uses radio signals because….?

    And speaking of Dyson spheres and ringworlds, that’s standard SF stuff. I can’t help but think the experts in this area are just reading Larry Niven, Iain M. Banks, and Alastair Reynolds, and getting their ideas from those SF books. Actually, that’s exactly what you’re doing, since most theoretical megastructures were dreamed up by SF authors, not academics.

    Despite this, I really hope resources are devoted to looking at KIC 8462, that it’s taken seriously as something that could yield interesting data regardless, and that researchers recognize the public’s right to know instead of potentially sitting on data for years.

  100. Dave

    > Does KIC 8462852 have any planets?

    None that we know of, but Kepler can’t detect planets if their orbits don’t cross the star’s disk from our point of view. Only 1/215 of the Universe (any place within 1/4 degree of the Ecliptic) sees the Earth transit the Sun’s disk for up to 12 hours once a year, which is why Kepler had to stare at 150,000 stars to discover a few hundred planets.

    If you built a fleet of giant light collectors, much wider than planets but extremely thin, you wouldn’t want them shading your planets, so you’d put them in a different orbital plane. You’d start with slightly inclined orbits for easier mass transfer, and when those orbits filled up, proceed to greater inclinations.

  101. Blaine

    What if it’s a civilization signaling us using light?! What if the planet has already began to be swallowed whole by a nearby and we are witnessing the earliest stage of a planet being eaten. Perhaps earth had a similar debris cloud around it when it was struck by a meteor and created our moon. Those may be ridiculous and hysterical to most, after all I have no true knowledge in this field, but what I do know is that it is ridiculous for us to assume anything without further investigstion, which we are in the process of, so why would we already guess what we don’t know and have more investigations to come. After all a csi detective wouldn’t go to a crime scene, open the mailbox and propose a murderer. The truth is if you have a single question and multiple answers you have more work to do before you can say youre done in the slightest bit

  102. Bobpixel

    The lack of flat bottoms on these dips fascinates me. I’m trying to imagine occulting objects that would create these, and not leave a large IR signature. A messy comet coma and nucleus might dim the star like this, but we would have seen excess IR.

  103. Sebastian Sehnal

    Hi Jason, in our czech web side was some information about this “nice problem”. Keep my fingers to you and SETI and I can’t wait till January 2016. Hope we will have good confirmation about another live – civilization…Maybe this matter can change many things.
    Many greetings from Czech republic. Have a nice day!

  104. Timothy Scriven

    Look, this is probably a stupid question, but if we have regular images of the star, could we analyse a time lapse of these, look at the shape of occlusions over time, and make guesses about the shape of the objects occluding the star? If up to 22% of the light is being occluded, this sounds like a substantial area.

  105. Dmitry Novoseltsev

    About advanced extraterrestrial civilisations (type II+): .

    Original text on Russian SETI: .
    (soon on English on the Space Colonization Journal site).

    Shot information (popular post) on the Space Colonization Journal site:

    About basic electric solar sailes (ESS) on the Space Colonization Journal site: .

    Оne possible purpose for search stars whis signatures of electric Shkadov thrusters (jets) (GALEX project):
    – for search this ESS signature (ion jets) to KIC 8462852.

    I hope, this information will be useful t in your research.

  106. jtw13 Post author

    Hi, Jeff.

    Indeed, we don’t see diffraction or similar effects in transit light curves; the stars’ angular sizes are too large compared to the occulters for that to matter.

    CMEs are an interesting idea, but there are at least three problems:

    1) You need a LOT of continuous opacity; dimming a star by 20% would require a really huge amount of plasma.
    2) It’s odd that every single CME is be a dimming event, and never a flaring event. It implies that every single flaring event generated a CME headed straight for us, which seems unlikely.
    3) This is a mature early F star, and I don’t think they flare or have CMEs (radiative envelopes and all). But I’m a cool stars guy, not a hot star guy, so I’m not 100% sure about that.

  107. Jeff Goldader

    Hello–PhD astronomer here, but doing other things with my life now. I did mainly extragalactic. Maybe you can shoot this down, Jason.

    First, none of the events has a lightcurve showing a flat bottom like you’d expect from a classical transit event where you have a smaller object fully transiting a star. The lightcurves are more like a partial eclipse. So if due to some objects blocking the light from the star, it would seem the objects have angular diameters comparable to, or greater than, that of the star, and aren’t passing dead-center across the star.

    Second, there are no obvious diffraction features in the lightcurves (central peaks, for example). (Except for maybe the one near 1567 days.) I never did transit work, so maybe there are good reasons for this, but still…

    These two things lead me to believe we’re not seeing transiting objects.

    What about CMEs able to scatter enough starlight out of the beam for a few days that they cause the dips? The spectra in the discovery paper were taken during a normal period, yes? If there’s some sort of watch placed on the star, a target of opportunity spectrum during a dip might show blueshifted H-alpha absorption if that’s the case, I’d guess. Again, I didn’t do stellar, so I could be way off base. As far as I know, we haven’t seen such nasty CMEs before, but then, these dips are pretty unusual, too! Any X-ray observations that might show flaring? Thanks for your thoughts!

  108. Tyler Berry

    Has anyone thought of the posibility that it is not an object even within the heliosphere of KIC, but could be an object, or different objects, much closer to us? 20% is a LARGE percentage… Could it not be a dust cloud or a undiscovered planet that caused the dip in emissions? It wouldn’t have to be a very large object considering the vast distances involved to block out that much light if it was only a few lightyears away. In otherwords, relatively few photons can reach us from KIC, therefore a large amount could be blocked by even a small asteroid between earth and KIC, if in fact the “asteroid” (or other body) was relatively close to earth compared to KIC

  109. Rwhertel

    If this is an advanced alien structure then it makes the future easy. First they would already know about us and don’t care or they do know about us and do care. If they do care then they know we have observed them and they will drop in for a visit to show they care. Very interesting. Lol Think of it 1400 years ago this civilization was at least 500 yrs ? ahead of us.My bet is they have already been here and don’t care.

  110. Doug Ingram

    Thanks for continuing to follow this and for your responses here. I would love to have more details to pass along to my astronomy class. We are just this week discussing extrasolar planets, and I would love to blow up the syllabus to spend a week on this. There is so much interesting science going on here, even if the explanation turns out to be something boring like comets.

    Do you know what efforts are currently underway to collect more data? Is there any ongoing space-based photometry of this object now that Kepler is no longer observing it? Or is there some sort of coordinated effort underway from the ground from sites of varying longitude for continuous monitoring to try to establish whether these large dips repeat?

    Would ground-based data, say an AAVSO type of effort, be able to provide the photometric accuracy needed to analyze the light curve to further constrain the system based on the shape of the dips?

    Do you know of any efforts currently underway to examine this system more quickly as a target-of-opportunity for a large telescope with some flexibility built into its schedule? Maybe much like the supernova search, we could monitor for changes in the light curve and then try to rapidly schedule a spectrum of the system during that time to try to get information on the occulter? Is that a reasonable possibility, do you think?

  111. Levon


    Fascinated but does the star have a planet. I have not read anywhere that Kepler had detected a planet around the star. If there is no planet around the star, from where does the alien megastructures come about?

    I am not ruling out aliens. If life happened on the earth, there is no question it can happen in other places of the universe. But before that I would like to know a bit more about the planet.


  112. Rubens Shmuel

    Reading this report gave me an idea:
    Implement part dyson structure by simply insert small comets or asteroids to a near orbit around the star, and on each asteroid
    Cover the surface with collectors. Each asteroid is a seperate project ,maybe financed by different country.
    Creating such a dyson ring is almost technological feasible. How to move the harvested energy is still to be solved…
    Humanity has covered already the geosync
    Orbit around earth in similar manners.
    You can use groups of tethered asteroids
    Orbiting the sun to create to create anchoring frame for large scale collectors farm. Dyson in now a days technology.
    Move small asteroids, install collectoren,
    collect energy , any ideas what to do with the energy ?

  113. Raoul Peter Mongilardi

    I was fascinated by the article about KIC 8462852 because my sci-fi series, “Next To The Gods” employs a Dyson sphere ‘homeworlds’ that behaves in almost precisely the same way observed at distance. It’s great to be getting the flood of emails, texts and so forth and pretty cool when you’re book hits a nerve on a astronomical front.

  114. Yvan Dutil

    I have seen your paper. You got the same idea as me as checking the information content to decide if this is artificial. You have not work yet on this specific star. I am waiting for your calculation.

  115. Marc-André

    So we’re talking about “something” big. But “something” that big would block light longer than for a few days on a 750-800 days cycle( creating a more wave-form depression) , no? Can you deduce the size and localisation of that “something” like you do with planets?

  116. Steve

    I can’t find an alien structure from this far away, but I found a typo in the paper on arXiv:
    “discaver” should be “discover” in section 4.3, paragraph 2.

  117. Adam Curry

    All so the the type ir should change in wavelength for either a Dyson sphere,swarm,shell, or ring.Are there spectroscopy studies being proposed to investigate the change in that signal that should be there from synthetic material?Perhaps it would look for artificial constructions of groups of planetary material (like hematite) to large and concentrated to be a dust cloud?Hematite is an option to look for since it is a proposed recoverable mineral from mercury in a potential future Dyson structure in our solar system. Granted it is the end mercury to achieve such structures.
    Since there is a anomaly at the end of spikes,maybe a complex structure like a Dyson helix might be implied.

  118. jtw13 Post author

    “Isn’t a .88 day rotation awfully fast for a type F star?”
    No, that’s typical

    “Object transiting an F type star every 750 days. Is it possible that the supposed megastructure may be within the habitable zone of the system meaning it likely is an array of solar energy collectors that share identical orbit of the civilizations home planet?”
    I suppose it’s possible; I suspect it’s something we haven’t thought of.

    “i mean, pictures are nice and all, but they leave me wondering why they do not include the time scale on the x-axis label. what are we talking about here? seconds? minutes? hours? days?and who would do that in graphs they are submitting to a scientific journal? i can only conclude that it is an intentional deception.”
    BJD stands for “barycentric Julian date” and is common astronomical jargon for “days,” defined in a particular and precise way. These graphs were not submitted to a journal, but if they had been the x-axis would have been understood just fine.

    “Could the irregular dips be some sort of signal? Like alien morse or something?
    An art installation on cosmic scale?”
    “Have you looked at the interval or whatnot to determine if it is something like how we used to use flashlights to signal each other as kids?

    Our paper discusses these issues, sort of.

    “Does KIC 8462852 have any exoplanets? If not , then that would seem to rule out the possibility of a megastructure since where would the constructors arise.”
    We do not know; F2 stars are very difficult (or impossible, right now) to find planets around.

    “You put in a proposal to do a SETI search on the star? What is the status of that proposal and what can the internet do to make it come true? Because I know with absolute certainty that the internet wants it to.”
    The proposal is pending.

    “Am I the only one who finds this absolutely fascinating?”
    Based on the Internet bonanza, no.

    “I also want to point out the two main dips in the transit data, they both have small arms on the left side. Lets say this is indeed a mega structure, does it mean that its not a completely even shape? It has a uneven shape to it per the un regular dip in transit?”
    That’s a reasonable conclusion.

    “Is it possible certain that other anomalies in the stars’ spin could not produce the dips?”
    The star rotates every 0.88 day. The dips last many days, so cannot be rotationally modulated.

  119. Ws

    Object transiting an F type star every 750 days. Is it possible that the supposed megastructure may be within the habitable zone of the system meaning it likely is an array of solar energy collectors that share identical orbit of the civilizations home planet?

  120. ceanf

    i mean, pictures are nice and all, but they leave me wondering why they do not include the time scale on the x-axis label. what are we talking about here? seconds? minutes? hours? days?and who would do that in graphs they are submitting to a scientific journal? i can only conclude that it is an intentional deception.

  121. Danny

    I have a question Jason. Assume for the sake of argument advanced alien civilizations were an established fact, based on some prior discovery. If the very existence of aliens were well established (though not established around this particular star), what would be the odds then that this was an alien artifact? Would that be the most plausible explanation given what we know if we knew they existed (somewhere) in the galaxy?

    I understand obviously the need for great caution before invoking aliens, given that no one knows with certainty they even exist. I’m just trying to get a handle on how much we have to stretch to come up with a natural explanation versus going the other route. If you exclude dust and rings it seems hard to imagine something natural that is not a star and would block over 20 % of the starlight. But then again we seem to always discover new things we didn’t even consider before.

  122. Somebody

    Could the irregular dips be some sort of signal? Like alien morse or something?
    An art installation on cosmic scale?

  123. craveller

    Have you looked at the interval or whatnot to determine if it is something like how we used to use flashlights to signal each other as kids?

  124. Wojciech J

    I have always questioned the idea that Dyson Spheres are a logical phase of development of advanced civilization. I think that with advancement of technology we could just as well see the ability for self-restraint and limiting growth.Nevertheless I could see it as a vanity project or one made for other exotic reasons beyond need for living space or energy collection.
    Secondly, one has to ask, would a civilization this advanced use radio beams as means of communication? Doesn’t hurt to listen, but I wouldn’t bet on this being their means of communication(if they exist at all)

  125. afeder

    You put in a proposal to do a SETI search on the star? What is the status of that proposal and what can the internet do to make it come true? Because I know with absolute certainty that the internet wants it to.

  126. Adam Curry

    Is it possible certain that other anomalies in the stars’ spin could not produce the dips? It could offer a way to explain the dip’s that would not increase the total IR of the star unlike dust or an Oort cloud.

    Could a brown dwarf produce the effect?That is less likely off-course given the irregular period. It seems a little early to say the natural causes are less likely than artificial ones.

    The Dyson dilemma s a quandary to those interested in the Fermi Paradox .The age of potentially habitual time in the universe is enough that in theory all usable stars should have been block by now.
    So no, it would not be surprising if we found a few.
    I would say yes searching this target for artificial structures is logical but not the most likely cause of the signals. Unless there is some secondary data that has not been published yet?

  127. Laurence Leszcynski

    Does KIC 8462852 have any exoplanets? If not , then that would seem to rule out the possibility of a megastructure since where would the constructors arise.

  128. Taras

    Am I the only one who finds this absolutely fascinating? Whether is it a Alien mega structure or something completely different, this data is just beautiful to look at. I have never seen anything like this.
    I also want to point out the two main dips in the transit data, they both have small arms on the left side. Lets say this is indeed a mega structure, does it mean that its not a completely even shape? It has a uneven shape to it per the un regular dip in transit?

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