Get ready to put on your tinfoil hats, because a new report claims NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope, which regularly scans distant stars, has apparently peeped an “alien megastructure.” And, no, we’re not talking about the Death Star; this isn’t some horrible Star Wars promotion to hype people up for The Force Awakens in December.
Scientists say something way, way, way out there is emitting a bizarre light pattern that suggests it’s not just a planet or flickering host star. Rather, it’s some kind of artificial structure potentially hosting an advanced civilization. That’s the theory anyway. Chances are it’s just another distant star playing mind games with Kepler. But what if, you know?
In order for Kepler to detect an exoplanet, it observes the slight dip in starlight from a given star. Kepler will keep its eye on said planet, and detects when a slight dimming of starlight occurs. Scientists are typically able to accurately determine the size and structure of what Kepler is looking at. But in this case, things are just too weird for explanation. With all possibilities ruled out, what if it being an alien structure is the only possible answer?
This isn’t just something Kepler got a look at for a quick minute either. Kepler has been looking at this particular star for four years, and scientists are sure this isn’t some kind of technical glitch. Many people—part of the Planet Hunters group—have verified that the unusual dip in light is unique, and defies all known logic. That’s being agreed upon for now, though further study of data needs to be done before we officially know. But even then you can’t really know, you know?
“Aliens should always be the very last hypothesis you consider, but this looked like something you would expect an alien civilization to build,” said Jason Wright, an astronomer from Penn State University.
As Discovery notes, scientists are entertaining the possibility of a Type II civilization on the Kardashev scale, which is capable of utilizing the available energy radiating from a star.
Using a vast shell or series of rings surrounding a star, a Dyson sphere-like structure may be constructed. This has the effect of blotting out the star from view in visible wavelengths, but once the solar energy has been used by the alien civilization, the energy is shifted to longer wavelengths and likely lost as infrared radiation.
Scientists hope to point a radio antenna at the mystery object to see if it’s generating any artificial radio signals. That would give us an idea if what we’re looking at really is being inhabited by anything remotely intelligent. Chances are Kepler just saw some anomaly in space that we just don’t have the ability to comprehend (yet). But it’s time we figured out if we really are the only lifeforms living in this messy place we call the universe.