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“This is the first clear dip we have seen since , and the first we have ever caught in real time,” says Jason Wright, an astronomer at Pennsylvania State University in State College. If they can rope in more telescopes, astronomers hope to gather enough data to finally figure out what’s going on.
“This could be the first of several dips about to come,” says astronomer David Kipping of Columbia University. “Many observers will be closely watching.” KIC 8462852 was first noticed to be dipping in brightness at seemingly random intervals between 2011 and 2013 by NASA’s Kepler telescope. Kepler, launched to observe the stellar dimming s caused when an exoplanet passes in front of its star, revealed that the dimming of Tabby’s star was much more erratic than a typical planetary transit.
It was also more extreme, with its brightness sometimes dropping by as much as 20%. This was not the passage of a small circular planet, but of something much larger and more irregular.