They’re Out There–Maybe

Researchers have found a star (KIC 8462852) with an odd appearance. They’ve tried to make less dramatic explanations fit, but so far the only explanation that fits the data is that a Dyson Sphere surrounds the star.

A Dyson Sphere can take different forms, but one is a close network of satellites completely surrounding the star. Whatever the form, the sphere maximizes collection of energy from the star with a nearly continuous array of solar panels. The salient point, of course, is that a Dyson Sphere is not a natural phenomenon. Something with intelligence has to build it.

Physicist Freeman Dyson speculated that a technologically advanced race, reaching the limit of its civilization’s expansion because of dwindling matter and energy supplies, would seek to exploit their sun for all it is worth.

“One should expect that, within a few thousand years of its entering the stage of industrial development, any intelligent species should be found occupying an artificial biosphere which completely surrounds its parent star,” Dyson wrote in the 1960 Science paper that led to his becoming the namesake of this megastructure.

That a Dyson Sphere explains the star’s appearance is still speculative. That we can’t think of another explanation doesn’t mean there isn’t one. KIC 8462852 is 1,481 light years from Earth. We are unlikely to figure out the truth soon. But the possibility of a Dyson Sphere is intriguing.


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