No extraterrestrial laser pulses detected from KIC 8462852, SETI reports

December 9, 2015
The anomalous star KIC8462852 has baffled astronomerswith its erratic dimming, causing someto speculate that it’s orbited by a massive structure built by an extraterrestrial civilization. To help rule out that possibility, scientists searched for brief laser pulses from the distant star, but found none.“The hypothesis of an alien megastructure around KIC 8462852 is rapidly crumbling apart,” said Douglas Vakoch, President of SETI International. “We found no evidence of anadvanced civilization beaming intentional laser signals toward Earth,” he explained. Credit: Danielle Futselaar / SETI International

The anomalous star KIC 8462852 has baffled astronomers with its erratic dimming, causing some to speculate that it's orbited by a massive structure built by an extraterrestrial civilization. To help evaluate that possibility, scientists searched for brief laser pulses from the distant star, but found none, as reported in a paper submitted to The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

"The hypothesis of an alien megastructure around KIC 8462852 is rapidly crumbling apart," said Douglas Vakoch, President of SETI International and an author of the paper. "We found no evidence of an advanced civilization beaming intentional laser signals toward Earth," he explained.

The experiment was coordinated by SETI International (www.setiinternational.org), a new research and educational organization devoted to innovative approaches to astrobiology and the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI), including Active SETI, in which intentional signals are sent to other stars to evoke a reply.

On six nights between October 29 and November 28, 2015, scientists searched for pulses as short as a billionth of a second at the Boquete Optical SETI Observatory in Panama, using a 0.5 m Newtonian telescope. The observatory's relatively small telescope uses a unique detection method having enhanced sensitivity to pulsed signals. If any hypothetical extraterrestrials had beamed intentional in the visible spectrum toward Earth, the Boquete observatory could have detected them so long as they exceeded the observatory's minimum detectable limit.

KIC 8462852 has puzzled astronomers because it shows irregular dimming unlike anything seen for another star. The anomalous light curve was measured using NASA's Kepler telescope, as part of its search for exoplanets. However, even though a planet the size of Jupiter would cause dimming of approximately 1%, the dimming observed for KIC 8462852 was far greater – up to 22%. Just as strange, the dimming didn't follow the regular pattern of a planet orbiting a star, but instead was unpredictable. The best explanation to date is that the dimming may have been caused by cometary fragments in a highly elliptical orbit around KIC 8462852, intercepting starlight at the same time the Kepler mission was observing it.

"Given the large distance to KIC 8462852, nearly 1500 light-years, any signal received on Earth today would have left the star shortly after the fall of the Roman Empire," said Marlin Schuetz, Director of the Boquete Optical SETI Observatory and an author on the paper. "We need a sensitive way to detect any laser pulses that have traveled that far," he added.

To respond to this challenge, the Boquete observatory uses an innovative approach to detect brief laser pulses. Most other optical SETI experiments search for a stream of pulses that is then split apart, with individual pulses channeled to two or more devices called photometers, which are designed to detect individual pulses. Events in the multiple photometers are then compared to identify true light pulses from the sky. In order to reduce signal losses caused by splitting the beam, the Boquete observatory instead uses a single photometer that receives the full stream of pulses. In a second stage, the output of this single photometer is analyzed for pulses that repeat in a regular, periodic manner – an unmistakable signature of an artificial signal.

"If some day we really detect a signal from an extraterrestrial civilization, we need to be ready to follow up at observatories around the world, as quickly as possible," said Vakoch. As a first test of this coordination, on three of the nights that optical SETI observations were made from Panama, KIC 8462852 was simultaneously scanned for narrowband radio signals using the Allen Telescope Array in northern California. As was the case for the optical observations, no signals were detected.

Explore further: Mysterious star stirs controversy

More information: Optical SETI Observations of the Anomalous Star KIC 8462852, arXiv:1512.02388 [astro-ph.EP] arxiv.org/abs/1512.02388

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Tuxford
2.8 / 5 (12) Dec 09, 2015
So why would advanced civilizations want to communicate via a 3000 year delay? What a wasted effort. I suppose most of what SETI does is further nonsense. No intelligent alien would attempt such an inefficient means of communication. Either they have a better means, or they would not waste their time. SETI should take a look at crop circles, if they are truly interested in alien communication.
Valentiinro
1 / 5 (4) Dec 09, 2015
^ What he said. But furthermore, if they are crumbling apart they have bigger things to worry about than sending radio signals all willy nilly.
baudrunner
1.8 / 5 (5) Dec 09, 2015
That's one theory. On the other hand, those inhabitants around KIC 8462852 are so private that they don't want to be noticed, and they are building that Dysan Sphere to block even their sun from outside scrutiny so that they won't be interfered with while they go about planning the destruction of all intelligent life that wants to reach out and touch someone else. Be very, very careful.
Protoplasmix
5 / 5 (6) Dec 09, 2015
Good effort. It's safe to say you won't discover it if you don't look for it.
gkam
2.1 / 5 (7) Dec 09, 2015
Signals? Why do some folk immediately jump to the most ridiculous argument?
PoppaJ
1 / 5 (2) Dec 09, 2015
Assuming they are beings. It is because they will not communicate via laser pulses. Humans think in such small terms. If they are in fact creating a dyson sphere then they are attempting to seal them self's off from the universe. There are so many better ways to produce large amounts of energy then this.
Rob
not rated yet Dec 10, 2015
So why would advanced civilizations want to communicate via a 3000 year delay? What a wasted effort. I suppose most of what SETI does is further nonsense. No intelligent alien would attempt such an inefficient means of communication. Either they have a better means, or they would not waste their time. SETI should take a look at crop circles, if they are truly interested in alien communication.


I agree on the intentional communications part, which a directional laser would be, but looking for unintentional and isotropic radio signals has some merit. Earth could be discovered by those means some 100 light years out so it stands to reason that other civilizations who use or had used radio waves could be as well.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (4) Dec 10, 2015
So why would advanced civilizations want to communicate via a 3000 year delay?

Would only make sense if they were extremely long lived (or metabolically/intentionally artifically slow).

That's one theory. On the other hand, those inhabitants around KIC 8462852 are so private that they don't want to be noticed, and they are building that Dysan Sphere to block even their sun from outside scrutiny

A Dyson sphere is a rather bad way not to be notices. The heat from the sun still has to escape as fast as the sun delivers it to the inner surface (otherwise you will get a net heat increase and the entire thing would eventually melt)

There are so many better ways to produce large amounts of energy then this.

Like? Name one. (Note that this 'anything better' would have to be a power source that needs no feeding for billions of years and produces more energy than the sun)
James_Morgan
1 / 5 (2) Dec 10, 2015
We've barely been looking at this star for 5 mins and already they are saying "no, definitely no ET there". It's ridiculous, even arrogant to think that because we can't detect them straight away then they obviously don't exist.
Keep watching the star I say.
phprof
1 / 5 (2) Dec 10, 2015
I smell a desperate attempt to get more funding. That is the story of the SETI program.
EnsignFlandry
not rated yet Dec 10, 2015
That's one theory. On the other hand, those inhabitants around KIC 8462852 are so private that they don't want to be noticed, and they are building that Dysan Sphere to block even their sun from outside scrutiny so that they won't be interfered with while they go about planning the destruction of all intelligent life that wants to reach out and touch someone else. Be very, very careful.


A Dyson Sphere, or a Ringworld, would be built to harness more of the star's energy to support a larger/richer population, not to hide, which would be futile.
baudrunner
not rated yet Dec 10, 2015
A Dyson Sphere, or a Ringworld, would be built to harness more of the star's energy to support a larger/richer population, not to hide, which would be futile.
Such a civilization would have to be so old to have advanced to that level that their population might number in the trillions, which is what would be required for a massive project like a Dysan sphere to be undertaken. By that time also, they will have determined that contacting civilizations on other worlds invariably brings great misfortune. No, they want to hide. Just another dark matter ball.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Dec 10, 2015
Such a civilization would have to be so old to have advanced to that level that their population might number in the trillions,

Erm...why?
You think a technological advanced species would continue to multiply? Especially if they have (as close as makes no difference) immortality the entire reason for procreation falls by the wayside. Not to mention scenarios like post humanisms or group minds in which numbers are stable or even reduced down to one.

In any case a pupoluation of a trillion still means that each individual would have about 100000 square kilometers at their disposal (positing a Dyson Sphere at 1 AU). To get to less than 1 person per square kilometer you'd have to step up to a 100 quadrillion people.

(A trillion people would need an O. Or maybe a small band at most)

contacting civilizations on other worlds invariably brings great misfortune

Why? It's not like anyone has anything the other wants or needs at that stage.
baudrunner
not rated yet Dec 10, 2015
Why?
Disease, mostly. And incompatibilities too numerous to mention.

This particular species multiply to increase their collective mass. They are six inches tall.

That figures, the way life works. A massive undertaking like a Dysan sphere would naturally be the accomplishment of a diminutive race of humans six inches tall.
cantdrive85
1 / 5 (3) Dec 10, 2015
It would seem some of our fellow posters are engaged in a circle jerk of mental masturbation right alongside the rubes looking for aliens.
antigoracle
1.8 / 5 (5) Dec 11, 2015
I'm rather disappointed that no one has mentioned that we may be witnessing the remnants of Alderaan.
baudrunner
1 / 5 (1) Dec 11, 2015
can think, cantdrive
TechnoCreed
5 / 5 (2) Dec 11, 2015
can think, cantdrive

Was this a demonstration of your blondeness?

Very convincing thank you!
TechnoCreed
3 / 5 (2) Dec 12, 2015
@anti
Sorry about the 1 it was suppose to be a 5.
MaxwellsDemon
not rated yet Dec 13, 2015
"The hypothesis of an alien megastructure around KIC 8462852 is rapidly crumbling apart," said Douglas Vakoch, President of SETI International and an author of the paper. "We found no evidence of an advanced civilization beaming intentional laser signals toward Earth," he explained.

The hypothesis of intelligent life on Manhattan is quickly falling to pieces. Careful observations with my binoculars reveal no evidence of smoke signals visible from Brooklyn.

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