The Atlantic published a fascinating story today titled "The Most Mysterious Star in Our Galaxy." The author, Ross Andersen, spends plenty of time documenting a mysterious star, one a Yale postdoc remarks is unlike anything she's ever seen. It sounds pretty mysterious:
The light pattern suggests there is a big mess of matter circling the star, in tight formation. That would be expected if the star were young. When our solar system first formed, four and a half billion years ago, a messy disk of dust and debris surrounded the sun, before gravity organized it into planets, and rings of rock and ice.
But this unusual star isn’t young. If it were young, it would be surrounded by dust that would give off extra infrared light. There doesn’t seem to be an excess of infrared light around this star.
It appears to be mature.
Mature, you say? Hmm…
The Yale postdoc, Tabetha Boyajian, published a paper considering a bunch of different answers to the mystery—"instrument defects; the shrapnel from an asteroid belt pileup; an impact of planetary scale, like the one that created our moon" but found each answer "wanting…"
And Andersen talked to Boyajian on the phone and Boyajian told him that the paper only considered "natural scenarios," but was now considering "other scenarios…"
And Andersen also talked to Jason Wright, an astronomer at Penn State…
“When [Boyajian] showed me the data, I was fascinated by how crazy it looked,” Wright told The Atlantic. “Aliens should always be the very last hypothesis you consider, but this looked like something you would expect an alien civilization to build.”
Michael Rosen is a reporter for Fusion based out of Oakland.