Thursday, February 4, 2016

Tabby's Star for the Perplexed

Last Update: 5 August 2016

Update: Montet/Simon Preprint
Earlier this year, Brad Schaefer stated that Ben Montet was working on the question of secular fading over the four years of Kepler primary mission data when Tabby's Star was visible, and that he was seeing fading. A preprint came out last night confirming this, and in fact the fading was quite dramatic at times. There are lots of questions, and I suppose there will be controversy, but it's quite important if it holds up. We'll have more soon.

Expecting data soon from the the Kickstarter funded observations by the LCOGT. Stand by...

Related Wow! Signal Podcast Audio Links:
    Tabby's Star for the Perplexed, Part 1
    Tabby's Star for Perplexed, Part 2
    The Slow and Fast Dimming of Tabby's Star
    DASCH Photometry with Josh Grindlay
    Audio Interview with Tabetha Boyajian
    Catching Tabby's Star in the Act - Interview with AAVSO's Stella Kafka

When it comes to Tabby's Star (also known as KIC 8462852), we are all perplexed. This post is for those who are disinclined to read technical papers by professional astronomers, but would like to know just what the heck is going on. What is all this stuff about alien megastructures, swarms of giant comets, infrared excess, and old photographic plates? We'll lay all that out here for you in non-technical terms (or we'll explain the terms as we go). Please, if there are any questions, ask in the comments below, and we'll try and figure out an answer, if there is one. The post is richly hyperlinked, so if you want more detail, you can easily find it. I hope I have given credit wherever it is due.

Let me start by stating up front, that no one knows exactly what is going on with this star. What we'll try to lay out here is why this otherwise ordinary star is strange. If you have questions, or find errors, or know of updates I should include, please leave a comment here.