KIC 8462852 won large popularity as the WTF Star. Citizen Scientists observed extreme fluctuation in the star’s brightness, that could not be explained through any natural phenomenon.
After observing the star’s data, to make sure it was right and not something technical, scientists started speculating what could cause the star’s brightness to dimm as much 21%! A big cloud of planet debris was one suggestion and an alien mega-structure was the other, namely a Dyson Sphere.
A Dyson Sphere (or Swarm) is a hypothetical construction resulting from Freeman Dyson’s thought experiment. He suggested that technologically advanced civilizations would at some time have such an enormous need for energy that they would have to directly harvest their star’s energy.
He visioned large, energy-collecting structures orbiting a star to directly harvest its radiation.
We shouldn’t forget that Dyson came up with this idea in the 60’s, a time where energy sufficiency was not high on the agenda. I personally doubt that a highly sophisticated civilization will have energy problems. Never the less some smart scientists still do consider the possibility.
Whatever the cause for this unique and extreme dimming might be, the mysteries are growing instead of getting less. After studying the star closer and comparing older data with present observations, scientists have noticed other irregularities in the star’s brightness that can also not be explained.
The star is now known as Tabby’s star, named after Tabetha Boyajian, the leading researcher on KIC 8462852. She even started a successful crowd funding campaign to finance extra telescope time to observe the strange star and maybe find some answers.
You can watch her TED talk below to get a better idea of what is going on.