'Bizarre' star may suggest existence of 'alien civilisation' say scientists

People star gazing

Unusual light patterns created by a distant star may be a sign of alien life, scientists say.

The "bizarre" patterns are consistent with a "swarm of megastructures" in orbit, Jason Wright, an astronomer from Penn State University says.

He is set to publish his theory that these structures may indicate an "alien civilisation".

"We'd never seen anything like this star," says Tabetha Boyajian, a researcher at Yale told The Atlantic.

"It was really weird. We thought it might be bad data or movement on the spacecraft, but everything checked out."

Night sky filled with stars

Her project, which uses data from the Kepler Space Telescope, involves "citizen scientists", volunteers who help them analyse the masses of information.

Several of them flagged this particular star, known as KIC 8462852, as having "interesting" or "bizarre" light patterns.

We thought it might be bad data or movement on the spacecraft, but everything checked out
Tabetha Boyajian
Postdoctoral researcher

These suggest that there are masses circling the star, a normal sight if the star is young. However, this star appears to be mature.

Boyajian has suggested some natural explanations for the structures, but admitted she was thinking about "other scenarios".

"When [Boyajian] showed me the data, I was fascinated by how crazy it looked," Wright said.

"Aliens should always be the very last hypothesis you consider, but this looked like something you would expect an alien civilization to build."

Milky Way

Along with other experts, the pair are writing up a proposal to investigate KIC 8462852 further.

The want to use a large radio dish to see if they can gather any radio waves from the star that might be at frequencies linked to technological activity.

If they do find these waves, the next step would be to ask for time using the Very Large Array (VLA) in New Mexico.

They are hoping to make their first observations at the beginning of next year.

"If we saw something exciting, we could ask the director for special allotted time on the VLA," Wright said.

"And in that case, we'd be asking to go on right away."

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