Astronomers have been watching the “megastructure” star – officially known as KIC 8462852 – as it is known for bizarrely dimming.
It is known as the alien megastructure due to theories the dimming might be down to a large spaceship or object orbiting the star.
While scientists remain unconvinced by this idea, the object – also known as Tabby’s Star – still has them baffled.
KIC 8462852 is around 1,280 light years from Earth and is currently being monitored by the Kepler space telescope.
Astronomers have this week recorded the star’s largest dimming event to date.
Tabby’s Star starting dimming on March 16, before lighting up again, and then resumed dimming on March 26.
Tabby’s Star starting dimming on March 16, before lighting up again, and then resumed dimming on March 26.Scientists said this is the “deepest dip” since they started monitoring the so-called alien megastructure – getting about 10% darker than usual.
The star has previously been dubbed the “most mysterious” in the universe.
Mystery still surrounded why the star is blinking, whether it is an alien megastructure, planets orbiting the star, or a cloud of dust.
TWITTERTABBY’S STAR: The strange object dimmed to its darkest to date this week
DIMMING: Tabby’s Star is known to get darker and brighter at random
Astronomer Tabetha Boyajian, for whom the star is named, revealed the latest dimming on Twitter.The assistant professor of Astrophysics at Louisiana State University posted it was the “deepest dip detected”.She remains uncertain as to what is causing the dimming, but space watchers around the world are keeping tabs on Tabby’s Star.NASA’s Kepler space telescope focuses on watching dimming stars since it is a way to uncover new planets.
Stars dim when planets orbiting the stars pass in front of them, causing regular dimming events.
The “alien megastructure” is unusual as the star is totally unpredictable in its darkening – and sometimes getting brighter.
This is what has led to theories about alien space ships potentially visiting the star as a fuel source.
Previously, Professor Boyajian said: “Dust is most likely the reason why the star’s light appears to dim and brighten.
“The new data shows that different colours of light are being blocked at different intensities.
“Therefore, whatever is passing between us and the star is not opaque, as would be expected from a planet or alien megastructure.”
26 pictures will make you re-evaluate your entire existence
Most of the people on Earth are completely unaware of everything that’s around us. When you look at the night sky, you see the moon, vague reflection of some of our planets and countless stars that have captured the imagination of people who lived on Earth for tens of thousands of years.
Sometimes, we need to slow down the pace by which we live every single day and reconsider where we are as humans.
These 30 mind-bending images will make you REEVALUATE how you look at our planet, the solar system, and the universe in general.
Lets’s start of with the basics. This here is Earth. Did you know that our planet revolves around its own axis; it orbits the sun, the sun moves through space at a staggering 792,000 kilometers per hour? But there’s a bigger picture beyond Earth.
1. This is the Earth! This is where you live.
2. And this is where you live in your neighborhood, the solar system.
3. Here’s the distance, to scale, between the Earth and the moon. Doesn’t look too far, does it?
4. THINK AGAIN. Inside that distance you can fit every planet in our solar system, nice and neatly.
5. But let’s talk about planets. That little green smudge is North America on Jupiter.
6. And here’s the size of Earth (well, six Earths) compared with Saturn:
7. And just for good measure, here’s what Saturn’s rings would look like if they were around Earth:
8. This right here is a comet. We just landed a probe on one of those bad boys. Here’s what one looks like compared with Los Angeles:
9. But that’s nothing compared to our sun. Just remember:
10. Here’s you from the moon:
11. Here’s you from Mars:
12. Here’s you from just behind Saturn’s rings:
13. And here’s you from just beyond Neptune, 4 billion miles away.
To paraphrase Carl Sagan, everyone and everything you have ever known exists on that little speck.
14. Let’s step back a bit. Here’s the size of Earth compared with the size of our sun. Terrifying, right?
The sun doesn’t even fit in the image.
15. And here’s that same sun from the surface of Mars:
16. But that’s nothing. Again, as Carl once mused, there are more stars in space than there are grains of sand on every beach on Earth:
17. Which means that there are ones much, much bigger than little wimpy sun. Just look at how tiny and insignificant our sun is:
Our sun probably gets its lunch money stolen.
18. Here’s another look. The biggest star, VY Canis Majoris, is 1,000,000,000 times bigger than our sun:
19. But none of those compares to the size of a galaxy. In fact, if you shrank the sun down to the size of a white blood cell and shrunk the Milky Way galaxy down using the same scale, the Milky Way would be the size of the United States:
20. That’s because the Milky Way galaxy is huge. This is where you live inside there:
21. But this is all you ever see:
(That’s not a picture of the Milky Way, but you get the idea.)
22. But even our galaxy is a little runt compared with some others. Here’s the Milky Way compared to IC 1011, 350 million light years away from Earth:
Just THINK about all that could be inside there.
23. But let’s think bigger. In JUST this picture taken by the Hubble telescope, there are thousands and thousands of galaxies, each containing millions of stars, each with their own planets.
24. Here’s one of the galaxies pictured, UDF 423. This galaxy is 10 BILLION light years away. When you look at this picture, you are looking billions of years into the past.
Some of the other galaxies are thought to have formed only a few hundred million years AFTER the Big Bang.
25. And just keep this in mind — that’s a picture of a very small, small part of the universe. It’s just an insignificant fraction of the night sky.
26. And, you know, it’s pretty safe to assume that there are some black holes out there. Here’s the size of a black hole compared with Earth’s orbit, just to terrify you:
So if you’re ever feeling upset about your favorite show being canceled or the fact that they play Christmas music way too early — just remember…
This is your home.
This is what happens when you zoom out from your home to your solar system.
And this is what happens when you zoom out farther…
Just a little bit farther…
And here it is. Here’s everything in the observable universe, and here’s your place in it. Just a tiny little ant in a giant jar.
NASA’s Deep Impact Begins Hunt for Alien Worlds
NASA’s Deep Impact spacecraft is aiming its largest telescope at five stars in a search for alien (exosolar) planets as it enters its extended mission, called Epoxi.
Deep Impact made history when the mission team directed an impactor from the spacecraft into comet Tempel 1 on July 4, 2005. NASA recently extended the mission, redirecting the spacecraft for a flyby of comet Hartley 2 on Oct. 11, 2010.
As it cruises toward the comet, Deep Impact will observe five nearby stars with “transiting exosolar planets,” so named because the planet transits, or passes in front of, its star. The Epoxi team, led by University of Maryland astronomer Michael A’Hearn, directed the spacecraft to begin these observations Jan. 22. The planets were discovered earlier and are giant planets with massive atmospheres, like Jupiter in our solar system. They orbit their stars much closer than Earth does the sun, so they are hot and belong to the class of exosolar planets nicknamed “Hot Jupiters.”
However, these giant planets may not be alone. If there are other worlds around these stars, they might also transit the star and be discovered by the spacecraft. Deep Impact can even find planets that don’t transit, using a timing technique. Gravity from the unseen planets will pull on the transiting planets, altering their orbits and the timing of their transits.
“We’re on the hunt for planets down to the size of Earth, orbiting some of our closest neighboring stars,” said Epoxi Deputy Principal Investigator Drake Deming of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. Epoxi is a combination of the names for the two extended mission components: the exosolar planet observations, called Extrasolar Planet Observations and Characterization (Epoch), and the flyby of comet Hartley 2, called the Deep Impact Extended Investigation (Dixi). Goddard leads the Epoch component.
More than 200 exosolar planets have been discovered to date. Most of these are detected indirectly, by the gravitational pull they exert on their parent star. Directly observing exosolar planets by detecting the light reflected from them is very difficult, because a star’s brilliance obscures light coming from any planets orbiting it.
However, sometimes the orbit of an exosolar world is aligned so that it eclipses its star as seen from Earth. In these rare cases, called transits, light from that planet can be seen directly.
“When the planet appears next to its star, your telescope captures their combined light. When the planet passes behind its star, your telescope only sees light from the star. By subtracting light from just the star from the combined light, you are left with light from the planet,” said Deming, who is leading the search for exosolar worlds with Deep Impact. “We can analyze this light to discover what the atmospheres of these planets are like.”
Deep Impact will also look back to observe Earth in visible and infrared wavelengths, allowing comparisons with future discoveries of Earth-like planets around other stars.
Alien life on Mars could be possible: Bacteria discovered in world’s driest desert raises new hope
An extremely rare rain shower triggered an explosion of biological activity in the desert.
Microbes found living in the Atacama desert have raised hopes of discovering life on Mars.
Video is at the end of the article.
A freak shower in the world’s driest desert has surprised scientists by waking up sleeping microbes – raising the hope that there could be life on Mars.
The US team discovered incredibly hardy bacteria that can lie dormant in the soil for decades without a hint of water.
But when it unexpectedly rained in their habitat, the most arid corner of South America’s Atacama desert, they bounced back into life.
Planetary scientist Dr Dirk Schulze-Makuch, from Washington State University, said:
“It has always fascinated me to go to the places where people don’t think anything could possibly survive and discover that life has somehow found a way to make it work.
The discovery has brought new hope of life on the red planet.
“Jurassic Park references aside, our research tell us that if life can persist in Earth’s driest environment there is a good chance it could be hanging in there on Mars in a similar fashion.”
The researchers took soil samples from six different locations in the Atacama desert between 2015 and 2017.
Microbes had been found in the desert before, but it was not clear if they were original residents or dying vestiges of life blown in by the wind.
The answer came after an extremely rare rain shower triggered an explosion of biological activity.
The desert has similar conditions to the surface of Mars.
Genetic tests revealed several indigenous species of bacteria that had adapted to live in the harsh environment.
A return trip to the Atacama in 2016 and 2017 revealed that the same bugs were gradually reverting to a dormant state as the soil around them dried up.
Dr Schulze-Makuch said: “In the past researchers have found dying organisms near the surface and remnants of DNA but this is really the first time that anyone has been able to identify a persistent form of life living in the soil of the Atacama desert.
“We believe these microbial communities can lay dormant for hundreds or even thousands of years in conditions very similar to what you would find on a planet like Mars and then come back to life when it rains.”
Billions of years ago Mars had oceans and lakes where early life forms may have thrived. As the planet dried up and grew colder, the Martian bugs could have survived in much the same way as their Atacama counterparts, the scientists believe.
“If life ever evolved on Mars, our research suggests it could have found a sub-surface niche beneath today’s severely hyper-arid surface,” Dr Schulze-Makuch added.
A European rover due to land on Mars in 2021 as part of the ExoMars mission will drill two metres into the soil to look for signs of life.
The findings are published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
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