The star KIC 8462852 caused an entire scientific controversy because of what seems to be a bizarre behavior.

In 2015, it underwent short and non-periodic dimming moments, as captured by NASA's Kepler telescope. Since nobody could fully understand the reason behind these strange occurrences, a team of scientists formed of Carnegie's Josh Simon and Caltech's Ben Montet has started analyzing the phenomenon.

Back in August, when they posted their findings on a preprint server, their theories caused even more controversy. However, their work was recently accepted for publication. The paper will be released in The Astrophysical Journal and it deals with the Kepler observations showing an additional slowly fading process of the star, which happened regularly during the four years the telescope recorded its activity.

The mystery was surrounded with speculations, and hypotheses trying to explain the star's unusual activity covered every possible explanation, from orbiting comets to alien megastructures.

The most common reason for which stars can seem to be dimming is usually the presence of a solid object, such as a planet or a thick cloud of dust, blocking the telescope's angle of observation. This type of eclipse would constitute a solid theory for a star's apparent dimming. However, as the pattern seems to be highly irregular, representatives of the scientific community denied this hypothesis, being unable to determine the exact causes of the star's fading and sudden re-brightening.

The team of scientists investigated the amount by which KIC 8462852 has dimmed during the first three years of being observed by Kepler, which was a solid 1 percent. An additional 2 percent was then observed in no more than six months, followed by half a year of lack of activity.

Then the team compared KIC 8462852's activity with other 500 similar stars only to observe that, while all have gone through the similar fading process during the first three years of Kepler's mission, none were so dramatic. No other star exhibited a cumulative loss of 3 percent of its brightness during such a short time.

"We examine whether the rapid decline could be caused by a cloud of transiting circumstellar material, finding while such a cloud could evade detection in sub-mm observations, the transit ingress and duration cannot be explained by a simple cloud model. No known or proposed stellar phenomena can fully explain all aspects of the observed light curve," explains the team.

While the analysis of this phenomenon only managed to deepen the mystery revolving around the star, it also constitutes a starting point for future research on the topic. 

ⓒ 2021 All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.