Alien Engineering Around Strange Star?

There’s a new big dipper in the nighttime sky.

No, it’s not a cozy constellation, but a distant, non-descript star that behaves like a shipboard semaphore, beaming flashes of light into the cosmic darkness that seem random, but may not be.

While the luminous output from everyday stars is relentlessly steady, this one occasionally dips its brightness as much as 20 percent, suggesting either that it is orbited by lumps of dust, rock or other opaque material, or – and hang onto your desk chair – there are residents in this stellar system who have deliberately built hardware of a size and extent big enough to intercept a substantial amount of their sun’s output. In that case, what we’re seeing is the consequence of a massive, alien construction project.

Seriously? Could this star, lovingly named KIC 846 2852 – a fairly ordinary stellar orb roughly half-again as big as our Sun and nearly five times brighter – be home to some advanced society that’s solving its energy crisis by constructing what’s called a Dyson sphere (or more practically, a Dyson swarm): a phalanx of solar panels that orbit their sun, turn oodles of starlight into electricity, and then beam that energy back to the home planet to power their fossil fuel-free lifestyle?

Well, that’s certainly a possibility. The idea of Dyson swarms (first proposed by physicist Freeman Dyson) is appealing enough to have tempted several astronomers to look for them throughout the Galaxy. They’ve done so by searching for the warm glow of infrared light that would waft off the back side of the solar panels. Their task is tricky however, because any dust floating in the space between the planets (and there’s always dust!) would mimic this infrared glow.

But KIC 846 2852 is different, because —> Read More