Tabby’s star’s brightness fluctuations continue to intrigue astronomers

Tabby's star brightness fluctuations 1

Known for its strange brightness fluctuations, the star KIC 8462852, also known as Tabby’s star, is once again in action, and even more dramatically. A team of astronomers announces indeed to have registered the biggest decrease of luminosity since 2013.

In 2015, researchers pointed to a star located in the constellation Cygnus, about 1480 light years from Earth. KIC 8462852, better known as Tabby’s Star, displayed inexplicable variations in brightness. Was it due to meteorites? Dust? Or even a Dyson sphere harnessing the energy of the star? Last January, new data collected on the star suggested that the strange obscuration observed by the researchers is ultimately caused by interstellar dust, not an extraterrestrial megastructure.

If the mystery seems a priori resolved, the fluctuations, continue. A team of astronomers has indeed recorded a drop in brightness of at least 5% – which may even go up to 10% — breaking the record of the largest decline since the data collected by Kepler in 2011. For this Again, the most likely explanation is that of an irregular cloud of dust swirls around the star. It would take about a cubic meter of dust to block 22% of the light of the star, which is not impossible.

Two other stars have been observed with particular light fluctuations. The white dwarf WD 1145 + 017 sometimes has 30% drops in its stellar flow, which probably indicates the presence around it of a dust disk. The variable star RZ Piscium also has irregular brightness gradations of up to 10%. It also emits large amounts of infrared radiation: dust is also incriminated here, since it absorbs more ultraviolet light than infrared light.

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Shakes Gilles

Editor of The Talking Democrat. He enjoys bike riding, kayaking and playing soccer. On a slow weekend, you'll find him with a book by the lake.