Crushing the dreams of Fox Mulder-types everywhere, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute in California is suggesting an “alien megastructure” found near a distant star is probably something far less awesome.
According to IFLScience.com, a 20% fluctuation in the light emitting from star system KIC 8462852, a mere 1,400 light years away, is not due to Dyson spheres, “vast theoretical structures that could potentially harness the power of entire stars and other exciting extraterrestrial constructs.” That theory had been offered by Pennsylvania State University astrophysicist Jason Wright, who said the decrease in light could be due to an artificial obstruction.
Instead, SETI turned their Allen Telescope Array of 42 instruments on the system and, after tracking the monitoring the area for two weeks, found no evidence of alien activity. They looked for an omnidirectional emanating from the system but found nothing. This lack of activity suggesting any kind of alien energy interference “rules out omnidirectional transmitters of approximately 100 times today’s total terrestrial energy usage in the case of the narrow-band signals, and ten million times that usage for broadband emissions,” SETI says.
Adds Seth Shostak, SETI’s director, “The history of astronomy tells us that every time we thought we had found a phenomenon due to the activities of extraterrestrials, we were wrong. But although it’s quite likely that this star’s strange behavior is due to nature, not aliens, it’s only prudent to check such things out.”
SETI isn’t giving up all hope just yet, however. Read more here.