Posted on November 3rd, 2015

Reaching Orbit – Aliens!!

Mwahaha! Real life astronomers, not just crackpots, have finally proven that alien life exists. Even better, we found them before they found us. Even though they have the technology to create massive solar cells in space, large enough to block 22 percent of the light being emitted from their central star. While they have that amazing technology, they have kept their distance from us, probably due to our superior fire power and big brains. If you haven’t picked up on the sarcasm yet, now is as good a time as any. To be sure, the findings released by a reputable team of astronomers is very puzzling without any mentions of alien involvement and here’s why.

(Graphic Credit: NASA)

(Graphic Credit: NASA)

Kepler discovers exoplanets by measuring the light emitted from a star and detecting if the brightness dips periodically. If it does dip, it can be assumed that a planet is transiting the star. From there, more information can be estimated, like the mass of the planet, how close it is to the star, and the speed of its orbit; all giving us insight into the planet’s surface temperature and composition. A normal transit looks like the graph below.

You see just one dip over a period of time, now look at the transit of the star KIC 8462852 over 1580 days below.

Like a terrifying EKG result, the transits are all over the place and by no means consistent or repeatable. Fascinating. As you can imagine, this data was poured over by Tabetha Boyajian and assisting researchers who tried to discover the reason for this unheard of activity. The first thing to check is whether the data itself is reliable. After investigating the integrity of the data and comparing it with data from other sources, the researchers came to the conclusion that the data was sound. Many other theories such as the star having intrinsic variability or orbiting masses of dust are generally ruled out due to lack of infrared radiation that is normally found in these instances. The most logical conclusion that is asserted in the research paper is debris from a comet break up. The debris could be orbiting in clumps in an elongated orbit, varying the amount of light the different clumps are blocking from our view, and thus causing this random pattern in the Kepler readings. There are still hard to explain anomalies and much research needs to be done to glean more information on these strange readings, but let’s move on to the more imaginative hypothesis.

(Graph Credit: Boyajian et al.)

(Graph Credit: Boyajian et al.)

In the words of Spock: If you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable must be the truth. While we are far from eliminating other possibilities, people have nonetheless speculated on the improbable in this situation. One of the more popular theories is that an advanced alien civilization has manufactured extremely large solar panels to harness the solar power of the sun. So large they block nearly 22 percent of the light emitted from the star.

While we are hypothesizing about aliens, I would like to attest the aliens are creating their own version of the Death Star along with a fleet of star destroyers because I already bought my tickets for opening day and that’s all I can think about at present. It’s only a little less plausible than massive solar panels. While I poke fun at such things, it’s not an impossible idea, it’s just highly improbable seeing as we have an abundance of evidence that the Universe throws us numerous curve balls that take us decades to unravel. So far we have no tangible evidence of alien life, not even microbial let alone advanced in which to base these conclusions. Let’s just say the evidence is sparse but the imagination is limitless. No matter the outcome we are sure to discover something we may have never witnessed before, unveiling more of the mysteries of the Universe. Millennium Falcon here I come!

Katie Nelson
Geospatial Ninja
(303) 718-7163

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