Kepler Space TelescopeA star called KIC 8462852, known as "Tabby's Star", lying approximately 1500 light years away from Earth, is displaying a strange pattern of dimming. A long period of gradual fading has been punctuated by two dramatic drops in light, followed by instant rebounds, spaced nearly two years apart. Astronomers have already ruled out a number of natural explanations, leaving open the suggestion that the signals could be caused by giant structures built near the star by extraterrestrials—perhaps a giant array of orbiting solar panels.
Location of KIC 8462852 in the constellation of CygnusThe unexplained signals have been detected by NASA's Kepler Space Telescope, a spacecraft launched in 2009 to find planets in distant solar systems, called exoplanets. Kepler found them by searching for the small dip in the light triggered whenever a planet passes in front of the star.
The idea of a Dyson sphere (or swarm) was first described by Olaf Stapledon in his science fiction novel, Star Maker (1937). It was later popularized by Freeman Dyson in his 1960 scientific research paper, "Search for Artificial Stellar Sources of Infrared Radiation".
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