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Observations by amateur astronomers have rocked the world

For the first time the science community seriously considers the plausibility of an extraterrestrial civilization. What do Ukrainian researchers think?
22 October, 2015 - 12:04

The strange behavior of the KIC 8462852 star, located in the constellation Cygnus has prompted American astronomers to hypothesize the presence of an extraterrestrial civilization. Periodically, the star’s emitted light is obscured by some strange formation, and pattern of these eclipses do not fit into any of the usual ones, familiar to astronomers. The anomaly was discovered by Tabetha Boyajian’s team at Yale University. At first they thought it was due to malfunction of the Kepler telescope, which has been observing this star for several years, but this version was rejected. The astrophysicists have discovered that the orbit of KIC 8462852 is clouded with a massive accumulation of matter (cosmic dust), which may have blocked the vision. However, Phil Plait, American astronomer, has refuted this theory in an article on slate.com. According to him, cosmic dust can accumulate only around a star, which is newly formed, and KIC 8462852 is nowhere near young age. Instead, Jason Wright, renowned astrophysicist from the University of Pennsylvania, suggests that the unusual formation around this star might be explained by the fact that someone has built a large artificial object that partly obscures the light. This design, according to Wright, allows using the star as the energy source. And that may be the evidence for the existence of extraterrestrial civilizations.

The idea of using stars as potential energy sources was proposed in the 1960s by Freeman Dyson, American physicist of British origin. It was him, in fact, who developed a concept which is now called the Dyson Sphere. According to that concept, a highly developed civilization might build a thin spherical shell around the star in order to obtain energy out of it.

According to Klym Churiumov, professor of Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv and the director of the Kyiv Planetarium, the discovery of a Dyson sphere, if confirmed, will become a huge discovery and a direct confirmation of the presence of other civilizations. As for the human civilization, it has not yet reached the level of science needed to build anything similar. But in the future, the scientist is certain, humanity will be able to use the stars’ energy, although at this stage it seems unlikely.

“The universe is very diverse in the manifestations of laws that govern it, and the variety of natural phenomena is actually infinite. Anyway, to this day we had never had to resort to the ‘extraterrestrial intelligence’ version in order to explain a phenomenon observed. Every time a combination of natural factors was enough for a valid explanation. In particular, the case of KIC 8462852 and the variations of its brightness at this moment are best accounted for the influence of comets and their debris which got into the star’s orbit under the gravitational influence of another star that had passed nearby. Indeed, it is a very rare phenomenon, but it is the best natural explanation we can think of today. If one has to choose between the improbable (an event which happens extremely rarely) and the impossible (an event that contradicts our notions about the world), they have to go with the former. It is natural, and therefore it is possible. The impossible version would be tested only after all the possible ones were to be rejected. Anyway, the question is: can the phenomenon of KIC 8462852 double star prove the existence of an extraterrestrial life? Most likely no, we are only dealing with a very rare but natural phenomenon,” says Yurii Kostiuchenko, leading researcher of the Center for Aerospace Research of NAS of Ukraine, expert in the fields of satellite observations, geoinformatics, statistics, security, and risk assessment.”

“However, this discussion allows us to raise several important issues – in particular, the issue of providing the energy for human civilization. Sooner or later we will have to go into space and take energy from the sun directly. For example, there are discussions on the projects of installing solar panels on the lunar surface and the subsequent transfer of energy to the Earth via microwaves. Other ideas include collecting solar wind using space stations, or gathering the solar energy through giant orbital mirrors. And, of course, the spherical construction around the sun. So far, we don’t have the technology in order to bring this kind of ideas to life, but one should not call them impossible.”

By Ihor SAMOKYSH, The Day