Possible Giant Alien Structures ~ Could This be Real?

Artist's concept shows NASA's planet-hunting Kepler
spacecraft operating in a new mission profile called K2

Now this is what I'm talking about!
This is the exiting stuff SF is made from. And guess what, it's getting close to reality. How cool is this. Read on:  

NASA's Kepler Space Telescope is tasked with finding small, rocky worlds orbiting distant stars. 

However, exoplanets aren’t the only thing Kepler can detect — stellar flares, star spots and dusty planetary rings can also pop up in the mission's observations.

But the space telescope may have the ability to detect more than natural phenomena. Kepler may also detect the signature of artificial structures orbiting other stars, if they're out there. Imagine an advanced civilization which has the ability to harness energy directly from its star. This alien civilization may want to construct vast mega-structures, like supersized solar arrays in orbit around their host star that could be so big that they blot out a sizable fraction of starlight as they pass in front.

When Kepler detects an exoplanet, it does so by sensing the very slight dip in starlight from a given star. Kepler detects the slight dimming of starlight and creates a "lightcurve" — basically a graph charting the dip over time. Much information can be gleaned from the lightcurve, such as the physical size of the transiting exoplanet. But it can also deduce the exoplanet’s shape.

For the most part, any dip in star brightness is some kind of natural phenomenon. But what if all possibilities are accounted for and only one scenario is left? What if that scenario is this object appears to be artificial? In other words, what if it’s alien?

A star, named KIC 8462852, has been found with a highly curious transit signal. In a paper submitted to the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, astronomers report: "Over the duration of the Kepler mission, KIC 8462852 was observed to undergo irregularly shaped, aperiodic dips in flux down to below the 20 percent level."

The research paper is thorough, describing the phenomenon, pointing out tha846t this star is unique - they've seen nothing like it. Kepler has collected data steadily for four years. It's not instrumental error. Kepler isn't seeing things; the signal is real.

The Planet Hunters volunteers are depended on to seek out transits in Kepler's stars in the direction of the constellation Cygnus. The group described KIC 8462852 as "bizarre," "interesting" and a "giant transit." They're not wrong.

Follow-up studies focus on two interesting transit events at KIC 8462852, one that was detected between days 788 and 795 of the Kepler mission and between days 1510 to 1570. The first event appears to have been a single transit causing a star brightness drop-off of 15 percent, whereas the second was a burst of several transits, possibly indicating a clump of different objects, forcing a brightness dip of up to 22 percent. To cause such dips in brightness, these transiting objects must be huge.

The researchers also investigated the possibility of a huge planetary collision: could the debris from this smashup be creating this strange signal? The likelihood of us seeing a planetary collision is extremely low. The only natural explanation favored by the researchers seems to focus on an intervening clump of exocomets. "One way we imagine such a barrage of comets could be triggered is by the passage of a field star through the system," write the researchers.

A second paper is currently being written to investigate a completely different transit scenario that focuses around the possibility of a mega-engineering project created by an advanced alien civilization

This may sound like science fiction, but our galaxy has existed for over 13 billion years, it's not such a stretch of the imagination to think that an alien civilization may be out there and evolved to the point where they can build mega-structures around stars.

And hunting down huge structures that obscure the light from stars is no new thing. The Search for Extraterrestrial Technology (SETT) is one such project that does just this. 

But as KIC 8462852 is showing us, there may be something else out there — possibly an alien intelligence that is well on its way to becoming a civilization, which is setting up some kind of artificial structure around its star.

Of course, these mystery transit events are nowhere near "proof" of an alien civilization. In fact, it's barely evidence and a lot more work needs to be done.

The next step is to point a radio antenna at KIC 8462852, just to see whether the system is generating any artificial radio signals that could indicate the presence of something we'd define as "intelligent."

It might be a long shot, and the phenomenon is more likely a clump of comets or some other natural phenomenon that we haven't accounted for blocking star light from view, but it’s worth investigating, especially if there really is some kind of alien intelligence building structures, or perhaps, ancient structures of a civilization long-gone, around a star only 1,500 light-years away from Earth.

This kind of stuff makes me really miss all that research I use to do for SFR stories... Wow! It sure does take me back to my love of anything scientifically space oriented, SF for sure. The ideas kind of remind me of Stargate Universe. (SGU)

See you inside a new alien culture! 


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