SETI Researchers Find No Sign of Aliens at KIC 8462852 ... Yet

What Is an Exoplanet?

April 3, 201500:43

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By Keith Wagstaff

Alien hunters have been training their telescopes on the mysterious KIC 8462852 star system for more than than two weeks, and so far it looks like extraterrestrials aren't home.

Last month, astronomers discovered a star roughly 1,500 light years from Earth that had a strange dimming pattern. It suggested that KIC 8462852 was surrounded by dense, irregular matter that, at one point, blocked 22 percent of the star's light — unusual as even a large Jupiter-like planet would only block 1 percent.

Related: Have Scientists Discovered An Alien Civilization? Not So Fast

The strange readings could come from a cloud of comets. But some have theorized that alien "mega-structures" are the source of the strange readings.

So the SETI Institute aimed its Allen Telescope Array — consisting of 42 antennas, each nearly 20 feet wide — at the star for more than two weeks. The researchers looked for both narrow-band signals that alien civilizations might use to broadcast their existence and broad-band signals that might be generated by spacecraft propulsion systems.

The result? No alien civilizations were detected by the telescope array. That doesn't mean they won't find anything, but so far it looks like you can stop worrying about an invasion from KIC 8462852.

"The history of astronomy tells us that every time we thought we had found a phenomenon due to the activities of extraterrestrials, we were wrong," Seth Shostak, director at the Center for SETI Research, said in a statement. "But although it’s quite likely that this star’s strange behavior is due to nature, not aliens, it’s only prudent to check such things out."