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.

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

  1. Phillip Missler

    Okay, I may not be an astronomer or astrophysicist but I stumbled upon this article and it intrigued me. IMHO wouldnt the easiest answer be twin black holes obiting near the system causing the star to loose mass over time and as they passed between us and the stat cause large dips in brightness? Being twin black holes they would have variences in their orbital paths if they where able to pick up mass in thier orbits explaining the irregular time periods in dimming.

  2. 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?

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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?

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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?

  15. 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?

  16. 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

  17. 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…

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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?

  21. 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?

  22. 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.

  23. 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.

  24. 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?

  25. 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:

  26. 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.

  27. 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.

  28. 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.

  29. 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.

  30. 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.

  31. 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.

  32. 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?

  33. 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?

  34. 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.

  35. 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.

  36. 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.

  37. 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?

  38. 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.

  39. 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

  40. 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?

  41. 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.

  42. 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.

  43. 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.

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