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Tabby star is one of the most mysterious stars in the Milky Way. Its informal name is KIC 8462852 which is located in the constellation Cygnus approximately 1,470 light-years (450 pc) from Earth.
Two students Yao Yin and Alejandro Wilcox at “The Thatcher School in California” used the boarding school’s observatory to track the Tabby star under the supervision of faculty member Dr Jonathan Swift. They followed the variation in the star’s light and thought they might have recognized an important player in how it changes.
“According to their research, grains of dust that differ either in composition or in size distribution might have had a role in the recent dips in luminosity. These dips happened just a few months ago and involved reductions in the amount of light we get from the star of 4 and 5 percent respectively. To put this into context, planets transiting in front of their star usually block a few percents of the light coming from it”.
These are obviously important dips but they are small compared to the ones observed by the Kepler Observatory a few years ago. The planet-hunting telescope saw the star’s brightness dip by 22 and 15 percent, which baffled scientists.
“We were hoping that once we finally caught a dip happening in real time we could see if the dips were the same depth at all wavelengths. If they were nearly the same, this would suggest that the cause was something opaque, like an orbiting disk, planet, or star, or even large structures in space” said Wright, who is a co-author of the paper, titled “The First Post-Kepler Brightness Dips of KIC 8462852.” Instead, the team found that the star got much dimmer at some wavelengths than at others.
“Dust is most likely the reason why the star’s light appears to dim and brighten,” said Boyajian.