A nearby star is exhibiting bizarre dimming of its light, a puzzling phenomenon similar to what was observed with KIC 8462852, also known as "Tabby's star."
Kepler Spots Dimming Of Young, Nearby Star RIK-210
RIK-210, a young star located 472 light-years away, is estimated to be between 5 and 10 million years old. It is about half as massive as the sun. Its radius is about 1.24 solar radii.
Researchers initially spotted the dimming using data from NASA's Kepler space observatory, which hunts for exoplanets by monitoring the light of distant stars. The data from the Kepler mission was handed for evaluation to Trevor David, from the California Institute of Technology, and colleagues, who conducted further investigations.
David and colleagues observed that the light of the star dims up to 15 percent every 5.67 Earth days and this lasts just a short period of time. The time frame also falls in line with the revolution of the star, which suggests that as the star rotates, the still-unknown source of the dimming rotates with it.
"We find transient, transit-like dimming events within the K2 time series photometry of the young star RIK-210 in the Upper Scorpius OB association," the researchers wrote in their study. "These dimming events are variable in depth, duration, and morphology."
Causes Of Light Dimming In Stars
The light dimming behavior of stars indicate that a planet or a smaller body orbits around it. Some think that the dimming of Tabby's star, which experiences erratic dips in brightness by up to 22 percent compared with the normal brightness dip of only about 1 percent, is caused by a swarm of alien megastructures. Other theories include comets and an internal phase transition of the star itself.
Although both Tabby's star and RIK-210 experience bizarre dips in brightness, scientists do not think that aliens are behind the mysterious behavior observed in RIK-210.
Cloud In The Magnetosphere
In a paper published in the arXiv pre-print on Dec. 12, David and colleagues reported to have looked into potential reasons that could explain the dimming of RIK-210. Among the potential factors they examined include remnants from planet formation, a product of a big collision, a protoplanet that has an extended tail, and a cloud in the star's magnetosphere.
They found that the most likely explanation for the mysterious dimming is the cloud of particles trapped by the star's magnetic field, albeit further investigations are needed in order to verify this.