“Stars Just Don’t Do That” –The Inside Unsolved Story of Tabby’s Star & Alien Megastructure Theory (A 2017 Most Viewed)

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"The problem with Tabby's Star," says Daryll LaCourse, a Kepler Mission data miner and co-author of the discovery paper, "is that every explanation that doesn't involve aliens has some sort of problem, some unresolved big issue with that particular theory."

"But with this star, you don't have the regular, periodic dips," says astronomer Tabetha "Tabby" Boyajian, a postdoctoral Fellow at Yale University, soon to join the faculty at Louisiana State University. "There is no period in which you know dips will occur. The dips last for extraordinarily long periods of time—different durations each time. Stars just don't do that."

 

Around 5 a.m. on a Tuesday this past May, Boyajian sat staring at a laptop, cross-legged on her couch in the living room of her Baton Rouge, La., home. The coffee table was cluttered with the artifacts of an all-nighter: an empty wine glass to calm her nerves alongside an empty coffee mug to fuel her through the night.

Since midnight, Boyajian had been downloading and analyzing data from the Las Cumbres telescopes—two on Maui, Hawaii, and two more on the Spanish island of Tenerife off the coast of West Africa—that sat trained on an F-type star, bigger and hotter than the sun, near the constellation Cygnus.

She'd been working all night, but Boyajian had been waiting for this moment for four years.

By 5 a.m., data from the telescopes in Maui confirmed what the ones in Tenerife had already said: The star formally known as KIC 8462852, now called "Tabby's Star," had started to dim again.

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