KIC 8462852 the WTF Star

So I’ve been seeing this star in the news recently, KIC 8462852 or Tabby’s Star, which apparently has some crazy light dimming anomaly that is baffling the scientific community. As most of you know this is how they search for planets orbiting distant stars, but this anomaly is not indicative of a planet (apparently).

One of the theories suggests that a foreign star passed through the system and pulled a string of comets from its oort cloud. However, it seems that another theory is that the dimming is from a dyson swarm, which has been mostly waved off by the scientific community as extremely improbable, but now the SETI institute is dedicating resources into seriously pursuing the matter.

I’m not a big astronomer or anything, or even that knowledgeable about space in general (although I guess I am more knowledgeable than the average person, but this community dwarfs me ^^) , so just how serious do we think the chances are for this to be a possibility? And even if they are within the reasonable realms of probabilities (i.e. not impossible), is it possible that SETI could even detect radio waves from this area? Wouldn’t it take a ridiculously long time for any radio waves to reach earth?

Also, if they were comets from any oort cloud, wouldn’t these comets rapidly burn away from the closer proximity to their star? Im confused :frowning:

Some links about the star/situation:


My opinion about SETI detecting radio waves: If we assume there are aliens living there that are advanced enough to build a dyson cloud then they probably have the technology to transmit powerful electromagnetic signals. And if light from them had enough time to reach us, then a radio transmission would have enough time to reach us too, since they travel at the same speed. However, the chances of them happening to transmit a powerful electromagnetic signal towards us that happens to reach us right now are probably not very high, unless they know we are here and are trying to communicate us for some reason. And it’s probably not very likely for us to listen in on any of their TV broadcasts or similar random transmissions, since those are probably not strong enough to not get lost in the background noise of the universe.

Slightly OT but the notion of detecting other civilizations with a radio telescope always amused me and came off as somewhat short-sighted. Even if we make the assumption that most technological civilizations pass through a phase of using radio waves as we define and understand them today - then how long would that period realistically last? I’d argue that within four or five decades we’ll have almost entirely abandoned the use of the radio frequencies for any form of communication, having moved to significantly higher frequencies with extremely complex encoding mechanisms (not to mention encryption), which, at any distance beyond our solar system, would be impossible to distinguish from background noise. So that’s less than two centuries for our own use of the band. Even if we generously expanded that to two millennia, what are the chances that another species usage of a similar technology would line up with our present moment?

Anyway.Interesting article. I bet it has more to do with some as of yet unknown mode of stellar evolution than a giant dyson sphere, but I guess SETI needs to keep the funds flowing in somehow.


SETI probably can’t not do it.

A civilization intent on contacting others would broadcast via all freqs/mediums/etc, if it was serious about it.

The best discussion I’ve seen - and you can glean much from it even as a layman - is at the Unmanned Space Flight forum.

My personal expectation is for us to not figure it out for a long time, or for a simultaneously very weird (we’re cosmically naive) and very mundane (no “aliens”) explanation to eventually out-fit all alternatives.

Nobody pasted a raw Kepler light curve, so.

A death-star test run just destroyed a super Jupiter!


Another data/reference point: the star’s rotation rate is .88 earth days.

I agree completely, an advanced civilization would be very unlikely to still be using radio communication in any way we could detect. In addition to the problems you’ve already mentioned, even if they did still use it, the channels would very likely be narrowband point to point communications.

My understanding is that the bet is that there might be some radio noise that can still be detected that is a by-product of their activities.

Hi Navy,
I understand your amusement, as it amuses me every time too :slight_smile:
But I also think: there are only 4 forces. One of them is magnetism. I don’t think that we will stop using this fourth of all forces in the future. People really think they can intercept communication. And you are right: This will not be possible as the chances are near exactly 0%. However, if you think of a simple electrical motor or a generator… anything which transforms electricity into mechanical movement or mechanics to electricity, it will have an electromagnetic signature. I just doubt that we’ll find that.

All this having been said, I’m still interested in the data with the hopes that it points towards some new physics or understanding of stellar dynamics. From the science discussion thread you may be aware that I favor alternative physical models (Subquantum Kinetics in particular), and am waiting to see how the authors of that theory will fit this observation into their theory. If anything comes up I’ll report back.

Correction, the force is electromagnetism(Sorry, I have to.)

While it is true that all things should radiate EM waves(WIMPs tentatively excluded) most things will be below the noise level of the CMB at such distances(if its unintended radio, etc).