Theories have ranged from it being simply a huge asteroid field to the most interesting of all which suggests it could be a vast alien-made structure.
This isn't the first time researchers have put forward the idea that dust is responsible for the dimming of Tabby's Star.
"They're ancient; we are watching things that happened more than 1,000 years ago". Perhaps the star had dust clouds or gaggles of comets that periodically blocked out the light.
So, while varying opinions as to what is causing the peculiar dips have been proposed over the past few years, a team of astrophysicists has now published what it believes to be the most likely answer - and it is sad news for those hopeful of extraterrestrial life being the cause.More news: 'Flight of the Conchords' special planned for May on HBO
A team of researchers studying "Tabby's star", a stellar object whose mysterious dips in brightness have puzzled scientists and enthralled space enthusiasts, has announced that the most likely explanation for the behavior is a cloud of fine dust circling the star-wah, wah. Today (January 3, 2018) - aided more than 1,700 people who donated over $100,000 through a Kickstarter campaign - a team of more than 200 researchers using ground-based observations announced that they agree.
Astronomers at the California-based Las Cumbres Observatory observed it closely from March 2016 to December 2017.
The paper's authors described the dips as "mysterious", despite them being caused by something considered normal in the cosmos. Maybe. Boyajian's challenge will be to market that investigation in a way that replicates the excitement of alien megastructures. If something opaque, such as an alien megastructure or planet, was passing between the Earth and the star, that would not be the case. Yet - as speculation about Tabby's Star and an alien megastructure had its day - Tabetha Boyajian herself performed a service for astronomy and for those of us who love it. They were waiting for a less common 20 percent dip in light, rather than the one to four percent periodic events that would blip up at semi-regular intervals. In 2010, a group of volunteer citizen scientists called "Planet Hunters" discovered the Tabby's Star after reviewing a data provided by Kepler. That possibility has been ruled out for Tabby's Star because of how much its brightness wanes when it begins to flicker. They paid over $100,000 for the privilege to study the star in closer detail and their observations were published in Astrophysical Journal Letters this week.
"We were hoping that once we finally caught a dip happening in real time we could see if the dips were the same depth at all wavelengths", Jason Wright, an assistant professor of astronomy and astrophysics at Penn State University, said in a news release.More news: (NASDAQ:JBLU) Shares Bought by Public Employees Retirement System of Ohio
"I am so appreciative of all of the people who have contributed to this in the past year-the citizen scientists and professional astronomers", Boyajian said. During the telescope's heyday, between 2009 and 2013, it stared at 150,000 stars, trying to spot these tiny changes, in the process identifying 2,341 exoplanets. An orbiting planet wouldn't dim the star as much as it was dimming, and a planet would cause periodic dips each time it passed between the star and Earth.
"There's no reason to think aliens have anything to do with Tabby's Star, given these data", Wright said. "When you say you don't really know what's going on, then everybody gets really excited about it".
Not only that, but many observations were also conducted by amateur astronomers.More news: Gambit Spinoff Release Date Pushed After Film Loses Another Director