Boyajian’s Star, also known as Tabby’s Star or KIC 8462852, has long perplexed scientists with its peculiar changes in brightness. However, a team led by astronomer Massimo Stiavelli is aiming to shed light on this enigma by analyzing observations gathered using the James Webb Space Telescope.
Discovered in 2015, Boyajian’s Star has exhibited irregular dimming, with fluctuations reaching up to 22 percent of its normal brightness. Unlike exoplanets, which typically cause periodic and predictable dips in starlight, Boyajian’s Star shows no discernible pattern in the timing or depth of its dimming events. This has made it a baffling anomaly.
Different explanations have been proposed, ranging from dust or debris clouds orbiting the star to far-fetched theories involving alien megastructures. While the latter has been debunked, no definitive answer has yet emerged.
To investigate this celestial oddity, Stiavelli and the team have employed the James Webb Space Telescope to observe Boyajian’s Star across a range of infrared wavelengths. Infrared light has proven to pass through the dimming more easily than ultraviolet light, suggesting that the cause of the dimming is not a solid object.
Possible explanations include comet swarms, remnants from a destroyed exoplanet or exomoon, internal fluctuations within the star itself, or an uneven cloud of dust. The team’s observations aim to differentiate between these models, with the detection of circumstellar material confirming its existence, and a non-detection inspiring the development of alternative theories.
Furthermore, a successful detection would enable the determination of the temperature and luminosity of the circumstellar dust, providing crucial insights into the nature of Boyajian’s Star. As the team analyzes the data, we eagerly await their findings.
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