The hunt for signs of alien life in a strange star system theorized to possibly host an “alien megastructure” is now in progress. Astronomers have started using the Allen Telescope Array (ATA), a system of radio telescope (radio dishes to be precise) about 300 miles (483 kilometers) northeast of San Francisco, to search for signals coming from the neighborhood of KIC 8462852, a star that lies located 1,500 light-years from Earth.
NASA’s Kepler space telescope discovered that KIC 8462852 dimmed strangely and dramatically numerous times over the past few years. The dimming proceedings were far too significant to be triggered by a planet crossing the star’s face, scientists say, and other possible clarifications, for example a huge dust cloud, don’t add up, either.
The primary suggestion at the moment includes a crowd of comets that may have been sent traveling toward KIC 8462852, probably after a gravitational jostle by a passing star. But it’s also probable, astronomers say, that the signal Kepler saw was triggered by giant structures built by an alien civilization — for example, a huge assortment of circling solar panels. This possibility of alien megastructure has put KIC 8462852 in the crosshairs of researchers who search for signals that may have been produced by intelligent aliens. Seth Shostak, a cheif astronomer at the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute in Mountain View, California, said “We are looking at it with the Allen Telescope Array,”
Some researchers say that it will be something quite different from alien megastructure but till such a clarification is found, the intelligent-aliens theory will still be on the table and possibly a strong one, even if the ATA and other devices like it come up empty.
The star might support lifeforms that do not release signals we can pick up, for instance. Or it may once have hosted a civilization that has since gone vanished, leaving the bizarre megastructure as a sort of monument.
Kepler’s vital planet-hunting work proposes that the Milky Way galaxy swarms with billions of rocky, possibly habitable planets. So KIC 8462852 is far from the only star system that Shostak and his associates will be hunting down in the coming years.
Shostak said “It almost doesn’t matter where you point your telescope, because there are planets everywhere. If there’s somebody out there, there are going to be so many of them out there that I do think there’s a chance.”