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The mystery formations and data discrepancies of Tabby’s Star turned out to have explanations. But that’s not what’s important about the mystery star.
For The Daily Beast:
For a second, we thought they were aliens.
In the case of Tabby’s Star—the star more formally known as KIC 8462852—the data (an an accompanying photo of towering figures) was weird enough that a few people surmised it maybe pointed to a sign of an alien civilization. The odds were never good, and a paper published earlier this week shows that aliens almost certainly aren’t involved.
Instead, astronomers think the abnormalities are probably either dust orbiting the star, fragments of comets, or even variations in “weather” on the star’s surface.
These possibilities are a lot more boring than aliens, but that doesn’t mean Tabby’s Star isn’t interesting. The very fact that we still don’t know exactly what’s going on (other than “it ain’t aliens”) is itself interesting.