In the constellation of Cygnus, 1,480 light-years from Earth, sits a very weird star. KIC 8462852 (or ‘Tabby’s Star’, named after its discoverer Tabetha S Boyajian) dims and brightens in an odd pattern, utterly unlike anything we’ve seen elsewhere in the night sky. A number of explanations have been proposed, like swarms of comets or planetary building blocks, but none can wholly explain the star’s behaviour.
While ruling out various possibilities, however, other researchers noted that the signal was consistent with one pretty wild idea – that an enormous alien megastructure surrounds the star, perhaps harvesting its energies. The theory was originally suggested half-jokingly, but as time goes on, and the more likely explanations get ruled out, people are beginning to wonder if it could be plausible.
Astronomers hunting the skies for extraterrestrial life have failed to find any signals coming from the star, but intend to keep listening. The odds are astronomically tiny that we’ve found aliens. But hey, who knows?