NASA/JPL-Caltech

Dust—not aliens—causes Tabby’s star to twinkle

The bizarre twinkling of a star in the constellation Cygnus baffled astronomers so much in recent years that some proposed advanced alien civilizations were behind it. Now, thanks to a $107,000 Kickstarter fund and the work of more than 200 scientists, researchers know it’s not extraterrestrials, but space dust that’s causing the erratic and extreme dips in brightness around Tabby’s star. The discovery has been accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, but National Geographic reports that the origin of the dust is puzzling in its own right, raising still more questions for astronomers.  

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