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Scientists research whether extraterrestrials are responsible for Kepler mystery

The Kepler Space Telescope has spotted a star with peculiar characteristics that have some scientists speculating as to whether the anomalies could be the result of an extraterrestrial civilization.

Kepler’s mission is to survey stars to determine if they have planets around them. As has been covered in many news stories, the telescope has found an abundance of planets, more than many thought would be out there. Furthermore, many of these planets exhibit characteristics that make them candidates for possibly harboring life.

Kepler Telescope
Kepler Telescope (Credit: NASA/JPL)

One of the ways the telescope is able to determine if a star has a planet is by looking for periodic dimming of the star’s light. This typically indicates that there is something passing in front of the star, and if it happens at a regular interval, then it is probably a planet. This is similar to how the Earth may make the light from the Sun dim every 365 days from the perspective of an observer far out in space.

However, one star in particular, named KIC 8462852, shows a dimming pattern that is unusual, and indicates, according to an article in The Atlantic, “a big mess of matter circling the star.”

Kepler looked at over 150,000 stars, and KIC 8462852 is the only one that shows this strange pattern.

The strange pattern was discovered by citizen scientists that belong to a group called Planet Hunters. The group was formed to help sift through the massive amount of data obtained by Kepler.

In 2011, members of the Planet Hunter group tagged the KIC 8462852 as “interesting” and “bizarre.” Since then, Tabetha Boyajian, a postdoc at Yale who oversees Planet Hunters, has taken a closer look and recently posted a paper on her findings.

Artist's illustration of Kepler. (Credit: NASA Ames/ W Stenzel)
Artist’s illustration of Kepler. (Credit: NASA Ames/ W Stenzel)

Boyajian reviewed a number of different scenarios as to what may be happening to cause the strange dimming pattern, but found all but one to be “wanting.” This one potentially plausible explanation is the possibility that a different star had passed nearby and dragged along with it a bunch of comets.

This explanation would be rare and it would be coincidental that it happened while we were watching. However, according to The Atlantic, Boyajian admits “her recent paper only reviews ‘natural’ scenarios. She told The Atlantic, there were “other scenarios” she was considering.

Jason Wright, an astronomer from Penn State University, is also looking at alternative scenarios, including the extraterrestrial one. He is working on publishing an article on this theory.

“When [Boyajian] showed me the data, I was fascinated by how crazy it looked,” Wright told The Atlantic. “Aliens should always be the very last hypothesis you consider, but this looked like something you would expect an alien civilization to build.”

Researchers have suggested before that unusual dimming patterns of stars may not only detect planets, but possibly advanced extraterrestrial structures, or as The Atlantic calls them, “technological artifacts orbiting other stars.”

Wright says KIC 8462852’s strange light patterns are consistent with a “swarm of megastructures.”

Massive alien structures and spacecraft surrounding a planet. (Credit: LucasArts/Space.com)
Massive alien structures and spacecraft surrounding a planet. (Credit: LucasArts/Space.com)

Wright and Boyajian plan on further researching KIC 8462852 to unlock its mystery and determine whether or not an extraterrestrial civilization exists there. They have teamed up with Andrew Siemion, the Director of the SETI Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley, and are working on a proposal to use a radio dish to attempt to listen in on KIC 8462852. The team will be listening for radio waves that exhibit advanced technology.

Meanwhile, the rest of us will be left to day dream about massive space colonies and huge spacecraft ferrying alien inhabits to and fro.

Alejandro Rojas

Alejandro Rojas is a radio host for Open Minds Radio, editor and contributing writer for Open Minds magazine as well as OpenMinds.tv. For several years Alejandro was the official spokesperson for the Mutual UFO Network as the Director of Public Education. As a UFO/Paranormal researcher and journalist, Alejandro has spent many hours in the field investigating phenomena up close and personal. Alejandro has been interviewed by media organizations around the world, including the largest cable and network news agencies with several appearances on Coast to Coast AM.

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  1. Very cool , I can’t wait till there is difinitive proof , this answer to the human kinds biggest question has been a long time coming .

  2. Very promising news and achievements that lie ahead. My only issue is with how the Planet Hunters are obtaining information. The dimming technique has too many issues. Let’s say that another alien civilization is using the same technique. They would see our very own star dim every 365 earth days. How do the Planet Hunters accurately rely on this alone is another potential planet has a solar revolution of longer orbits? We know orbits vary in every solar system. How can they possibly determine if a planet has a solar evolution of anything over 5 earth years? Keep in mind, I can assure you there are some planets with very large orbits. Some that may especially exceed a person’s lifetime…

  3. I keep posting to different people and don’t get any responses. I have several pictures some of them I call seeing eye orbs. And that’s because they look just like they have a black eye in the center of them. Another thing is why am I getting these Sun shots that again have what looks like my night orbs, only instead of hundreds its just one huge one. They look like that round megastructure you are posting I have upclose shots of UFOs taken right out my back door. I have 3 pictures that look like they have Aliens in them and seen other photos people have posted like mine or some of mine. I feel like I have some of the best pictures taken but I guess people think they maybe are a hoax. Newsflash there not and they just might be worth your time to look at them. I have lights that are flying through my yard. I have a huge picture frame up in my home with all them. But again I hear from no one, and then I see these little pics that people send in and they are nothing, I don’t know what else to say, hahaha I feel like the nerd in school that know one pays attention to then one day someone notices and all of a sudden he’s in, (its a movie) LOL Thanks

  4. Ok…what happens when we DO discover and prove “technological artifacts orbiting KIC 8462852–send the Away Team there to establish contact? Einstein’s Law of Relativity kinda is a killjoy when one ponders making contact. Nonetheless, I do believe Earth’s twin IS out there, well hidden deep in the vastness of the Universe; maybe God intended it to be that way.

  5. GOOD LUCK getting NASA to admit to finding anything, being so far away it will be easy to dismiss. Not sure why extraterrestrials are the ‘last hypothesis’ when unravelling the mysteries of the universe, seems counter-intuitive given the vastness of space, ‘they’ are likely everywhere.

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