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One of the most mysterious stars in the galaxy may soon be revealed

One of the most mysterious stars in the Milky Way may soon find an explanation for its strange behavior. It’s called Boyajian’s Star, or KIC 8462852 – less formally known as Tebby’s Star, a yellow-white glow about 1,470 light-years away – and its strange short-term brightness fluctuations and long-term changes have so far eluded scientists’ attempts to explain. BT.

There are many candidates for what might happen, but progress has been stalled due to a lack of more detailed information. But we won’t have to wait long. The team, led by astronomer Massimo Stiavelli from the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), has observed Boyajian’s stars using the James Webb Space Telescope and is trying to decipher them.

“KIC 8462852 (Boyajiang Star) exhibits a remarkable light curve that shows both deep dips and long-term changes,” the team wrote in its proposal. “We propose observations of this object in the wavelength range of 1.7 to 25 microns to measure the thermal emission of peristellar material that causes the observed changes in the light curve.”

Named after Louisiana State University astrophysicist Tabeta Boyajian, who led the paper describing the discovery of this wonder, Boyajian’s Star has remained a mystery since 2015. Since its discovery, it has been observed to darken by 22 percent of its normal value several times. brightness. And records show this has been done many times over the years.

Scientists know about events that can cause a star’s light to dim. The most obvious example is the orbiting exoplanet. But exoplanets cause periodic dips in starlight, and these dips often block out the same small percentage of light each time. Boyadjian’s star fades unevenly at different depths, with no discernible regularity in dive times.

It could be a one-off fall, an occultation, or something randomly passing between us and the star. But that’s not what we see in Boyadjian’s star. In fact, records show that he also went through important periods of enlightenment. This is truly a complete oddity (though perhaps not the only one of its kind).

Explanations for the stellar eclipse range from the relatively simple (orbiting a cloud of dust or debris) to the outlandish hypothesis of an “alien megastructure” that brought Boyajian’s Star to Earth fame. It has since been rejected, but that doesn’t get us any closer to an answer.

The fact that infrared wavelengths of light pass through the eclipse more easily than ultraviolet bands suggests that it is not a solid object causing the dips.

Possibilities include swarms of comets, fragments of a fragmented exoplanet that came too close to the star, fragments of a fragmented exoplanet, some strange internal fluctuations (Betelgeuse, anyone? OK, a different kind of star, but still not impossible!), and a patchy dust cloud.

KIC 8462852 in infrared (left) and ultraviolet (right). (Infrared: IPAC/NASA; Ultraviolet: STScI/NASA)

It’s also possible that there’s something going on that we haven’t thought of yet! Stiavelli and colleagues hope that JWST observations collected by NIRSpec and MIRI in the near and mid-infrared will help narrow down this area. Especially since infrared waves penetrate dust more effectively than short waves, and the JWST is a powerful infrared telescope.

“The first goal of these observations is to distinguish between competing models of the star’s behavior: detection will confirm the circumstellar nature of the occult material; Lack of detection will be a very limiting factor and will encourage further development of alternative starlight models. a curve such as dense knots of material in the interstellar medium or the cold interstellar disk of a dark object such as a black hole,” they write in their proposal.

“The second goal of these observations is to determine the temperature and brightness of dust around the star to better understand this remarkable object, if detected.”

We don’t have an answer yet; researchers are likely working hard to analyze the new spectra and understand what they mean; but since the program has been marked as completed, we hope it won’t take too long. Source

Source: Port Altele



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