In the year 2015, the star called KIC 8462852 also nicknamed "Tabby's star" after Yale University astronomer Tabetha "Tabby" Boyajian first came into notice as researchers discovered that the star emitted odd light.
Scientists now have the opportunity to observe and photograph the star's dimming behaviour clearly, which astronomers hope will shed light on its mysterious appearance.
"Whatever's causing the star to get dimmer will leave a spectral fingerprint behind", Wright said during the webcast, which took place in the Breakthrough Listen laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley.
The star that has been the focus of theories about alien megastructures to explain the unknown source of the light fluctuations first observed in 2009 is now in everyone's telescopes, as astronomers and astrophysicists try to figure out the puzzle. Data from the Kepler space telescope showed that the star was dimming, but historical records from astronomy plates kept at Harvard showed that the star had been dimming for over a century.
The star that has stumped astronomers with an irregular pattern of dimming and brightening that some have attributed to a possible surrounding "alien megastructure" was observed by astronomers worldwide after it was found to have suddenly become three percent dimmer. Other scientists proposed a large asteroid field or a swarm of comets instead, but we still don't really know what's going on. Indeed, something was up this past weekend, as one of the Universe's most mysterious stars reignited some baffling behavior. Even more interesting, the timing of the present dip suggests that whatever this material is, it is situated at just the right distance from the star to be in the "habitable zone", where we believe that life like ours could develop as it has on Earth. That's the case for KIC 8462852, or Boyajian's star.
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Whatever the object, observations of today's dimming may help explain why it behaves the way it does.
Observing the star as it undergoes dimming would enable scientists to measure its spectra, but such observations can not be planned because the phenomenon is unpredictable. A call is now open for telescopes around the world, including amateur astronomers, to point their eyes at Tabby's Star and watch how its light curve changes over the course of the ongoing dimming event. "But ... in the Kepler data we saw an episode of multiple dips clustered together over the span of a few weeks".
Two years ago, Boyajian - now an astrophysicist at Louisiana State University - analyzed month's-old data from NASA's Kepler telescope, which has its eye trained on thousands of stars in a specific part of the universe.
To do that, astronomers are taking a look at the star's spectrum to get a picture of what exactly is blocking the star. Boyajian says that combining the different spectra into a coherent picture across the wavelengths may take a while. "But the process has begun".