California High School Students to Present New Findings on Tabby’s Star
BATON ROUGE – A team of high school students will present new findings on KIC 8462852, or Tabby’s Star, often referred to as the most mysterious star in the universe, at a press conference at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Denver, Colo. today.
Tabby’s Star is nicknamed after LSU Department of Physics & Astronomy Assistant Professor Tabetha Boyajian, who has observed and studied the unusual dimming and brightening of this otherwise ordinary star along with citizen scientists.
The Thacher School students have been monitoring the brightness of the star for the past year. Rising Thacher seniors Yao Yin and Alejandro Wilcox have measured how the dimming of Tabby’s Star depends on the observed wavelength of light using the California boarding school’s newly renovated observatory. Under the supervision of Thacher faculty member Jonathan Swift and as part of a large, international collaboration of professionals and citizen scientists directed by Boyajian, Yin and Wilcox have helped reveal a new insight into the nature of this strange object.
Their measurements suggest that the long timescale and short timescale phenomena observed toward the star are due to dust that differs in either composition or size distribution. This could mean that the obscuring material was produced in a fairly recent event in which the dust has not had time to become well-mixed. Or the different events could be due to disparate and unrelated phenomena.
Yin, Wilcox and Swift will continue to monitor Tabby’s Star through the rest of the observing season this year with the goal of characterizing new events and perhaps catching larger events which will trigger, through the international collaboration, spectroscopic observations of the obscuring material.
The press conference will be held today at 12 p.m. (CDT) and streamed online at: https://aas.org/media-press/aas-press-conference-webcasts.
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Contact Alison Satake
LSU Media Relations
The Thacher School