SOME TIME AGO IN A GALAXY FAR, FAR AWAY — Mysterious debris surrounding a star that scientists earlier this year posted may be an alien megastructure is actually likely to be just comets, according to NASA.
The space agency used its Spitzer Space Telescope to observe infrared light data from the star, KIC 8462852, to test for other possibilities of what the debris maybe. NASA explained that if planetary impact or an asteroid collision was the cause of the debris, there would have been excess infrared light surrounding the star. Spitzer found none.
“Spitzer has observed all of the hundreds of thousands of stars where Kepler hunted for planets, in the hope of finding infrared emission from circumstellar dust,” Michael Werner, the Spitzer project scientist at NASA, said in a press release on the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s website.
While NASA doesn’t specifically rule out the megastructure theory, it gives more credence to the idea that comets of varying shapes and sizes are what caused the anomaly initially observed.
The research was led by Massimo Marengo of Iowa State University and has been accepted for publication in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.