Rare excitement spread through the scientific community and the media when data from the Kepler Space Telescope indicated something strange going on around a star 1,500 light years away called KIC 8462852. An analysis of the pattern of light coming from the star suggested that a swarm of smaller objects was orbiting the planet. Scientists narrowed down the possible explanations for the data to either a swarm of comets or a group of alien megastructures. According to a Monday story in Space Daily, an examination of KIC 8462852 by SETI, using the Allen Telescope Array, has failed to find any evidence that ET exists around that particular star.
The SETI search looked for two types of signals that might indicate intelligent life around KIC 8462852.
“(1) Narrow-band signals, of order 1 Hz in width, such as would be generated as a “hailing signal” for societies wishing to announce their presence. This is the type of signal most frequently looked for by radio SETI experiments.
“(2) Broadband signals that might be due to beamed propulsion within this star system.
“If astroengineering projects are really underway in the vicinity of KIC 8462852, one might reasonably expect the presence of spacecraft to service this activity. If these craft are propelled by intense microwave beams, some of that energy might manifest itself as broadband radio leakage.”
So far, the SETI probe has come up short.
“Analysis of the Array data show no clear evidence for either type of signal between the frequencies of 1 and 10 GHz. This rules out omnidirectional transmitters of approximately 100 times today’s total terrestrial energy usage in the case of the narrow-band signals, and ten million times that usage for broadband emissions.”
Of course, the findings do not definitively rule out the notion that KIC 8462852 is surrounded by alien megastructures, a Dyson sphere for example. The aliens could be using some form a communications, perhaps based on lasers, that would not be readily detectable by an Earth-based radio telescope. The alien spacecraft might be using some other propulsion system besides that using microwave energy.
Or, most ominous of all, the megastructures may exist, but the aliens who built them may not be around anymore. They may have either died out or moved on.
Finally, whatever is orbiting KIC 8462852 may be natural after all and, once again, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence has once again come up empty. Still, the matter is likely to be an unresolved mystery for quite some time to come.