Friday, October 23, 2015

Tabby's Star Could Teach Us a Few Things

You may have heard by now about the star KIC 8462852 under observation by NASA's Kepler Mission. Also known as Tabby's Star. It is nearly 1500 light years away in a constellation known as Cygnus the Swan. One of a 150,000 stars constantly observed over a period of three years, it exhibits some peculiar characteristics.

To understand how peculiar, let's discuss mission parameters. The mission is to observe stars for signs of planets orbiting them. If a planet crosses in front of the star it will occlude the light. A planet the size of Earth would only reduce the light by a tiny bit, much less than one percent. A large planet like Jupiter might bring it up to a full percentage point. And this will happen on a regular basis as the planet orbits its star.

The light dips for Tabby's Star are 15% and 22% approximately 750 days apart. Is it the same thing eclipsing the light, or is it two separate objects spaced equally apart? I suggest it is the first. Why? Because the rotation time tells us where an object is in relation to its star. If we know the period and the mass of the star, we can calculate the height of the orbit. We know the period is approximately 750 days or 1500 days. The mass of the star is about 1.4 times the Sun. If the artifact circles Tabby's Star every 750 days the orbit is comparable to Mars if it were in the Solar System. If it is 1500 days it is much further out but not beyond the realm of possibility for life to form.

Why the difference in the dip in light? My suggestion is this is an artifact that an alien civilization is using to construct their partial version of a Dyson Swarm. A major portion of this artifact would be made up of mirrors that would concentrate sunlight onto other material in the solar system to move it or melt it in the process of construction. Therefore, you are going to see different percentages of starlight dip every 750 days because they are going through phases of construction.

What we are watching took place about the time the Roman Empire started to crumble. Think how fast our technology is going now, and we aren't even building giant suncatchers in space. That also means they don't know we are here yet because the Romans weren't broadcasting the Olympic games or I Love Lucy. It won't be until the obvious changes in the atmosphere after the Industrial Revolution reach their planet (or structure) that we will give ourselves away. It will be the year 4840 A.D. before they could even respond to that information.

That this thing is only 1500 light years away is an amazing fact. That means there could be dozens, possibly hundreds of such constructs in our galaxy alone. That giant chasm of time and distance also points out the localization and loneliness of an intelligent race.

The Earth came to the habitability party early. It has already suffered five mass extinctions. This world may never have suffered any. Scientists believe that 92% of Earth-like planets haven't been formed yet so this could mean the herald of a boom in intelligent life taking control of it's environment.

If it is a civilization building an artifact we should watch them closely. They have obviously gotten past the need to burn things for energy. Perhaps we can pick up a few tips.

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