Recently the Kepler Mission detected a anomaly in a star system (KIC 8462852) that people are speculating could be a sign of intelligent life (aliens) being cause for anomaly. What was exactly going on there?

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    $\begingroup$ I suppose you mean fluctuations in the light curve of KIC 8462852, not the movement of any star. And maybe this is better in SE.Astronomy. $\endgroup$ – LocalFluff Oct 19 '15 at 9:02
  • $\begingroup$ yes i was refering to that $\endgroup$ – r2_d2 Oct 19 '15 at 9:03
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    $\begingroup$ I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because an authoritative answer isn't possible at this time. $\endgroup$ – Deer Hunter Oct 19 '15 at 13:12
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    $\begingroup$ This seems absolutely on topic for Space Exploration if you interpret the question as "can someone explain the speculation" rather than "can someone give a definitive answer to the mystery." $\endgroup$ – Russell Borogove Oct 19 '15 at 16:11
  • $\begingroup$ @RussellBorogove: I agree. This seems on topic here, as it relates to a space mission, I would expect that mega structures would also be on topic here. It seems bound enough, I'll re-open it. $\endgroup$ – PearsonArtPhoto Oct 20 '15 at 12:19

Kepler detected a light signature on the star (KIC 8462852) that was very unusual. The light from the star appears to be blocked by something, which the amount varies, by up to 20% of the light being blocked. The frequency of the blockage is irregular. This means that there must be a very large amount of small objects inside of that system. There are basically 3 ideas that so far check out:

  1. The debris could be a result of two large planets colliding with each other recently (think the event that created the moon). The main problem with this is the event would have had to happen within a very small window of opportunity.
  2. The debris could be a large number of comets, coming from a close encounter of a star recently. In fact, there is currently a close star, which may or may not be a binary. Either case, this could well explain the effect that has been observed. This is the most likely cause, due to the low infrared signature of whatever is causing this.
  3. There could be an artificially made cloud of materials there, perhaps a Dyson Swarm, bubble, or similar item. This is actually unlikely, as the main reason this star is suspect is a lack of infrared, meaning that whatever is obscuring the star must be cold. In fact, that is the most difficult aspect to explain.

The first two point to something incredible rare happening recently, at a time where we could see it. It's still a possibility, and in fact the most likely item, but the third possibility has captured the public's imagination. It's likely enough that they are going to do a SETI search on the star, but that doesn't mean anything, yet.

  • $\begingroup$ Can it really be excluded that 1) It is a very weird variable star or 2) It is a measurement error, a software bug or something such human made. $\endgroup$ – LocalFluff Oct 19 '15 at 13:04
  • $\begingroup$ As I understand, the paper was pretty careful at removing such variables, it seems pretty unlikely it is one of those two items. $\endgroup$ – PearsonArtPhoto Oct 19 '15 at 15:17
  • $\begingroup$ The paper itself is here; it's an interesting read. arxiv.org/pdf/1509.03622v1.pdf $\endgroup$ – Russell Borogove Oct 19 '15 at 20:52
  • $\begingroup$ Wasn't it the same pixel which gazed at this particular star all the time? AFAIK the telescope never rotated or moved. So we have to trust one (1) element on the CCD. Maybe it is a crazy pixel for some obscure chemical reason, after having been hit by a cosmic ray early on. @RussellBorogove $\endgroup$ – LocalFluff Oct 20 '15 at 1:26
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    $\begingroup$ Kepler rolls on its axis 4 times a year for solar panel orientation purposes, bringing a different CCD panel to bear on each target (the array is 90 degree rotation symmetrical). Therefore at least 4 different CCD pixels observed this target. archive.stsci.edu/mast_faq.php?mission=KEPLER#203 $\endgroup$ – Russell Borogove Oct 20 '15 at 15:20

This table gives an overview of possible explanations of the different aspects of anomalies that an artificial superstructure might cause:

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  • $\begingroup$ so which anomaly did kepler telescope observe $\endgroup$ – r2_d2 Oct 19 '15 at 9:23
  • $\begingroup$ All we know for sure is that there are irregular fluctuations in the light curve. There's a whole list of possible explanations, and very little data we could use to distinguish between them. $\endgroup$ – Hobbes Oct 19 '15 at 9:48
  • $\begingroup$ @r2_d2 It is not intended to be a complete answer, just a helpful reference. But 1) ingress & egress shapes (asymmetric), 2) transit bottom shapes (non-flat), 3) variable depths (up to 22%), 4) durations and aperiodicities seem to be quite obvious anomalies for KIC 8462852. $\endgroup$ – LocalFluff Oct 19 '15 at 12:55

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