The Mysterious Dimming And Behavior Of 'Tabby's Star' Finally Understood

First Posted: Jan 16, 2017 03:03 AM EST

In 2015, the scientists discovered the mysterious dimming and behavior of KIC 8462852 also known as Tabby's Star. Finally, the scientists have understood its dramatic flickering dimming.

The findings of the study were published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomy Society. It was titled Secular dimming of KIC 8462852 following its consumption of a planet.

So, what causes this strange dimming behavior of the Tabby's Star? The researchers at the University of California, Berkley, found that in the past 10,000 years or so the Tabby's Star has swallowed a planet. The outer layers of the star were inflamed that triggers it to shine brighter than usual. Meanwhile, its outer corona is starting to cool, in which it explains its steady dimming. On the other hand, the remainders of the eaten planet are still swirling and falling into the star. This causes the intermittent flare-ups and strange shadows of the star, according to New Zealand Herald.

Ken Shen, an astronomer at the University of California, Berkeley and the author of the study, said that it seems strange that a spectacular collision between a star and a planet would cause a star to become dimmer. He further said that the star has to eventually go back to being dimmer -- the equilibrium state -- the state that it was at before the collision.

On the other hand, its unpredictable dimming episodes could be explained by the debris that is moving around the star and absorbing its light. This sometimes making it appear significantly dimmer in a view from the planet Earth.

Tabby's Star or also referred to as WTF Star is located in the constellation Cygnus. It has unusual or irregular light fluctuations that were identified by the citizen scientists as part of the Planet Hunters project. This discovery was based on the data gathered by the Kepler space telescope.

Tabby's Star is not the only star with irregular dimming. The YSO or young stellar object dippers have also different dimming patterns.

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