Tantalising Tabby's Star teases watchers with big dimming event

No 'alien' megastructure, but lots of ongoing weirdness

Image: NASA/CALTECH

In January, boffins decided they'd settled the mystery of “Tabby's Star”, the far-off star that dimmed so rapidly it almost looked like something, or someone, was responsible. Scientists have since shrugged off the idea the dimming is caused by an "alien megastructure". Instead, they suggest there's just a lot of dust surrounding the star, which makes for many odd moments.

But there's still lots of weird stuff going on around the star. We know this thanks to a 2016 Kickstarter that saw 1,070 donors send US$107,000 to Louisiana State University astrophysicist Tabetha Boyajian (who first discovered KIC 8462852's strange behaviour, and after whom the star gets its nickname), who bought time on California's Las Cumbres Observatory and found more than 200 researchers to help analyse the data.

Since March 16, Boyajian has been documenting Tabby's Star's biggest dimming event to date.

First, the star dimmed, then it returned to normal, and on March 26, it started dimming again.

Boyajian wrote: “data taken at TFN last night [25 March – El Reg] show the flux is down five per cent. This drop has now been confirmed by AAVSO [American Association of Variable Star Observers] observer John Hall. Looks like we beat the record set just last week on the deepest dip observed since Kepler!”

Boyajian's brightness plots are below.

Tabby's star observations

The dimming event is now passing, with the flux rising but at the time of the most recent post still two per cent below KIC 8462852's long-term normal. ®




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