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The Joan Oró telescope observes the most misterious known star
12/02/2018
 
The telescope Joan Oró, from the Astronomical Observatory of Montsec, is studying the controversial "Tabby" star, in a coordinated observation campaign with more than a hundred professional astronomers and fans around the world.

Among these researchers, astronomers from the Institute of Space Studies of Catalonia can be found.

KIC 8462852, or "Tabby Star", by Tabetha Boyajian, the researcher at Louisiana State University (USA) who is leading the study, is a seemingly typical star, 50% larger than the Sun, about 1000 degrees warmer, and more than 1000 light years away. On the other hand, inexplicably it has been increasing and decreasing its brilliance sporadically, in a way that had never been seen before in any similar star. The effect was already observed by NASA's Kepler Space Telescope in 2013 and 2015, and since its discovery all types of theories and speculations have been formulated in order to try to explain this unusual pattern of light on the planet, star, including even a possible mega-alien structure that would orbit around.

The mystery of the Star of Tabby, in the constellation of the Swan, forced tens of telescopes around the world to be observed during 2017, including the Joan Oró telescope (TJO) of the Astronomical Observatory of Montsec . As a result, a set of data has been obtained that is presented today in an article led by Tabetha Boyajian. The TJO has contributed almost 3000 measures of brightness of the star made over six months.

"The exceptional sky of the Montsec, together with the ease of the robotic observations of the telescope Joan Oró, have allowed to obtain very accurate measurements that now reveal the nature of this mysterious star for the first time," says Kike Herrero, researcher at The IEEC that coordinated the observations with the TJO.

Already during the month of May the Star of Tabby began to show a decline of brightness, of only 2%, that was the beginning of a series of ups and downs, followed with much attention by all the telescope network. The monitoring, where in addition to the TJO, the most advanced devices in the world have participated, such as the Gran Telescopio de Canarias, has revealed that a set of dust clouds could be responsible for the strange behavior of the light of this star . "This explains why the different colors of Tabby star light are blocked differently, which is what has been seen with the latest photometric measurements," says Herrero.

On the other hand, not yet all the answers of this mysterious star have been found. That is why the telescope Joan Oró and the entire network participating in this study are still following the behavior, hoping that the Tabby star will wake up again and show variations of 10 or 20%, similar to those observed by the Kepler telescope in 2013 or 2015. With future observations, it is expected to be able to definitively solve the puzzle that this star has raised.

Articles

- BOYAJIAN, Tabetha et al. "The First Post-Kepler Brightness Dips of KIC 8462852", The Astrophysical Journal Letters, preprint at https://arxiv.org/abs/1801.00720 https://arxiv.org/abs/1801.00732
- DEEG, Hans et al. “Non-grey dimming events of KIC 8462852 from GTC spectrophotometry”, Astronomy & Astrophysics Letters, preprint at https://arxiv.org/abs/1801.00720 [NOT TRANSLATED]
 
Attached Documents
Generalitat de CatalunyaUniversitat de BarcelonaUniversitat Autònoma de BarcelonaUniversitat Politècnica de CatalunyaConsejo Superior de Investigaciones CientíficasCentres de Recerca de Catalunya