People talking about extraterrestrial life is nothing new. From alleged abductees to the entire town of Nuremberg, Germany witnessing a supposed celestial space battle all the way back in 1561, it seems aliens are so ingrained in our culture that books, movies, and television shows can’t steer away from entertaining the possibility of life on other planets.
However, evidence of extraterrestrial life has generally ranged from questionable and shaky at best to downright silly and laughable at its worst. But there might possibly be a sliver of scientific proof of life beyond earth.
That’s where the star KIC 8462852, otherwise known as Tabby’s Star, comes in.
Last September, the Planet Hunters project noticed some unusual changes in the star’s brightness. In fact, out of the 150,000 other stars being monitored, this was the only one with irregular brightness changes. Once they ruled out planets, comets, and other natural causes, some ufologists claimed the object causing the brightness change is really a Dyson Sphere.
So what the heck is a Dyson Sphere?
Tabetha Boyajian, the Astronomer Tabby’s Star is named after, said at a TED talk, “Imagine a civilization that’s much more advanced than our own. In this hypothetical circumstance, this civilization would have exhausted the energy supply of their home planet, so where could they get more energy? Well, they have a host star just like we have a sun, and so if they were able to capture more energy from this star, then that would solve their energy needs. So they would go and build huge structures. These giant mega structures, like ginormous solar panels, are called Dyson spheres.”
After some recent data showing Tabby’s Star’s overall brightness has dipped 19% over the last 100 years–also at erratic intervals not seen in nature–it lends more weight to the idea that one of these unfathomably large alien megastructures actually actually might real.
For right now, we can’t tell. But maybe one day we’ll be able to make that 1,500-light-year-long trip and find out if there really is life out there.