About a year ago, the discovery of a star’s odd, intermittent dimming prompted a number of explanatory theories, including large comet groups, enormous dust clouds, and massive structures built by extraterrestrial beings.
Scientists from Carnegie Institution for Science and California Institute of Technology have taken a closer look at the celestial body, called KIC 8462852 and found it’s even weirder than first believed.
Their analysis was, according to a Carnegie press release, based on a, “…series of Kepler calibration images that had not previously been used for scientific measurements.” The examination of the data showed that, “…over the first three years of the Kepler mission, KIC 8462852 dimmed by almost 1 percent. Its brightness then dropped by an extraordinary 2 percent over just six months.”
A comparison against 500 other stars observed by Kepler revealed, “…none exhibited such a dramatic dimming in just six months, or a total change in brightness of 3 percent.”
Ben Montet, one of the researchers, said, “Our highly accurate measurements over four years demonstrate that the star really is getting fainter with time. It is unprecedented for this type of star to slowly fade for years, and we don’t see anything else like it in the Kepler data.”
Why KIC 8462852 behaves in such a strange fashion remains unknown.