The star called Tabby’s Star / Boyajian’s Star but has the science name of KIC 8462852 dimmed few days ago, it’s increasing its brightness again as I write down this words. While it is not known what is creating this dimming. It is my view that following ideas are not possible, because they are just in the realm of fiction and are going to stay there.
- Dyson sphere is the idea that a space able civilisation is able to build a sphere of some type around its host star to shield it and the planets inside it. This idea has several flaws, one of the biggest is gravity, as such sphere would inflict a gravity equal to its size (squared). Then there is question about planet orbits, some planets have orbit that would cross such sphere path and other things. Then there are things like comets, space weather and wind.
What might be possible
- Some type of alien civilisation has built other types of mega structures around the star. This seems unlikely as such structure would require massive resources. This seems unlikely, as such activity might be detectable by RF signal activity. No RF signal activity has been detected by SETI so far, making this a unlikely option.
- Draining the star of its energy (hydrogen). It might be possible that some alien civilisation is draining the hydrogen from the star for energy use propose. Such activity would not leave a lot or any RF signal activity. But I find it quite difficult to imagine the scale of such activity to drop the star light by 20%.*
* I think this is mostly my idea that I was discussing on Ars Technica forum. It didn’t go well into the people there that didn’t understand the concept of what I was talking about. If this is the case, a helium flare might appear soon as the hydrogen is drained from the star (it might not happen due to this type of star). To my knowledge that has not yet happened. Making this idea improbable, but not impossible at the moment. Time is soon going to tell if this is the case, as older data suggests that current behaviour has been going for at least 100 years, possibly longer.
Like the rest of the science community I don’t have any idea about what is going on at KIC 8462852. Only research and observation is going to make that clear. Based on earlier pattern, a short dip that happened few days ago is soon followed by a longer dip in brightness. I’ll try to monitor the news reports once that happens to see if I can get any new data about what is going on at this star.
The light year distance to KIC 8462852 is around 1300 years, so current sequence of events took place around the year 717 on Earth.
This has been in the news all week. Scientists have found exoplanet around Alpha Centauri-B. This planet is in highly close orbit around Alpha Centauri-B. While this planet it self does not support life in any form. It opens up the possiblity that Alpha Centauri-A and B might have planets with life on them. Earth has life and is not so unique in my view.
This also makes Alpha Centauri A and B prime targets for searching alien civilizations close to our own solar system. But Alpha Centauri is just 4.37 light years away from Earth. But that means any radio signals are just 4.37 months reaching Earth (give or take). This also makes for a better signal detection at this short distance. If there is any civilization on Alpha Centauri A or B we have no way of knowing it state of technical levels. They might be more advanced then us, or they might be less advanced then us. Or they might still be in caves and really primitive. There is no way to know for sure. There is also a possibility that just life might exist in Alpha Centauri A-B system. But without any civilization at all. There is also chance if there was a civilization in the Alpha Centauri A-B solar system that it is long gone for one reason or other. Whatever the case actually is. This planet is a good hope that more planets might exist just 4.37 light years away from Earth.
But one thing is clear. We are never going to know without science studies in that direction. It is also my view that we need to study our closest star better then we already do. This applies mostly to the stars that are close to our own sun in size and brightness. Since the chance of finding planets like our Earth is highest around such stars. Rather then larger and heavier stars. Like blue giants and such. In that case. I think there might be planets around Sirius (8.6 light years away). But I do not think any such planet is likely to have any life on them. But I might be totally wrong in this estimate. But the only way to find out for sure is to study space, as it is human race most important step into the future.
News about this discovery
Next Door Neighbors? Earth-Sized Planet Discovered in Nearest Star System to Us (Universe Today)
Exoplanet around Alpha Centauri is nearest-ever (BBC News)
Alpha Centauri 3 (Solstation)
Sirius 2 (Solstation)
Alpha Centauri (Wikipedia)
While the human race has been busy studying with problems it’s solar system for several decades now. We have not yet started to explore with problems our distant star neighborhood. The reasons for lack of such exploration are two mostly.
The first one is lack of technology. But before the year 1970 the chance of exploring space with something else then just telescopes was limited at best. But technology moves forward. By the year 1970 spacecrafts where first advanced enough to go into the solar system. Rather then just orbiting the Earth or being in geosynchronous orbit. The first probes to go out into the solar system where the Pioneer spacecrafts. Then Voyager spacecrafts did go out into the solar system and are now leaving it. Today the newest spacecraft to be on it’s way out of the solar system is the New Horizons spacecraft. But it is going to go by Pluto in the year 2015 and give up new information about that planet. Along with high resolution images of it and it’s moons.
The second problem is distance. But past and current technology has now allowed us to send spacecraft out of our solar system without it taking years. Long running projects also have money issue, people issue. Along with technological issues on it’s own. Today it takes the spacecraft about 15 years to reach the edge of our solar system. If no other flyby are made on the way. Communication is also problem. The more distance between spacecrafts and Earth the longer time communication takes. For instance, New Horizons round trip communication today takes around 6 hours to complete (3 hours each way). When it reaches Pluto. That times has gone up to 12 hours both ways (6 hours each way). There are also no spacecraft to handle communications between points in our solar system. So all communication has to go directly between Earth and the spacecraft in question. This makes communication often impossible or hard at best in some cases. NASA deep Space Network does good job at keeping contact with those spacecrafts that are out there today.
But for the future. It is my opinion that long term plan needs to be put into action to secure communications inside the solar system with future space mission. Regardless if they are inside the solar system or outside it. But one thing is sure. In the future, it is going to be necessary for the human race to send spacecrafts outside the solar system to make discoveries. What we might find may change the human race forever. It is simply not enough to explore space with telescopes today. Unmanned spacecrafts needs to be sent out there to explore while humans cannot do so directly. We need to know what is out there. Sooner being better then later for the human race.
The question can we hear aliens has an other side to it. That side is do alien hear our radio signals. This question has been asked and little bit answered also. It has been calculated how far out the radio signals go out from Earth in every direction. As the technology goes it does not look good for radio signal from Earth. Given the bandwidth that radio signal has to have to use in order to carry signals, as picture and audio to be detected.
In terms or radius on where our radio signals can be detected. I would not be surprised that common radio signals are not detected outside our own moon. The strongest one might be detected on Mars or even Jupiter. But beyond that they are not going to be detected in my option. So if aliens detect our radio signals, they are going to get rather close to Earth to do so.
This is might also be the reason why we here on Earth are not detecting any signals from other civilization. The transmission used on those worlds, if they are there to start with are not strong enough to reach our solar system. Our only chance of detecting alien signals might be to look for narrow band signals that can travel an long distance in interstellar space. But for us to find alien radio signals. We have to go out there and look for them the hard way.
There most likely is an alien civilization close to our own solar system. But we are just unaware of it due to the fact that we are unable to detect its radio signals due to distance. If they are present to start with. As not all alien civilization might be using radio signals, or be on that technical level yet.
Section – F.06 How far away could we detect radio transmissions?
I have found that in all the debate about possible life and possibility of an civilization out there. The main problems is that we do not know if the civilization out there is using any radio technology. Even if they do. The question also remains if we get any of there signals to Earth. As the laws of physics say, radio signals can only go so far given certain amount of signal strength in any given radius. This is the complex way of saying that we might not be getting any signals because we are outside the coverage area of the civilization that we are looking at. Some civilization out there might not even be on the radio level technology at current moment. Even if we are there at present time.
I do not know if SETI or related areas have looked at the stars (solstation.com) in less then 20 light years distance from Earth. There have been some speculations on the distance on how far away the signals need to be so they can be detected. But one thing is for sure in my mind. It is almost impossible to detect an radio signal from other civilization if they are using anything remote close to our own technology.
The question on passing ships is an big one. But then an one-off signal should be expected and it might not repeat at all. It is also impossible to know how and often alien ship would travel trough our own solar system.
This is all just questions that are going to be answered one day. But it might take few more decades until it this questions are answered.
Blog post updated at 01:53 UTC on 11.01.2012.