Between the Earth and the heart of our galaxy is an old star with a faint glow. Similar to so many others, it has a particularity. Astronomers have detected a strange object orbiting around it. Cosmic dust or extraterrestrial technology, sensible proposals as well as more improbable ones were put forward in order to try and discover the nature of this mysterious object.
This discovery joins the list of many stellar objects that have left astronomers perplexed in recent years. The strange variations in the luminosity of VVV-WIT-07 were first noticed in 2012 during a survey of the Milky Way by the Chilean VISTA telescope. This year, the researchers reported the discovery in a new study published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, but without knowing much more about its nature.
While some objects pulsate because of their structure, the light of others can be predictably obstructed by the transit of a planet between them and the Earth, or by the presence of a cloud of cosmic dust. However, the drop in brightness caused by some unidentified entities remains a mystery to scientists. This is what is happening now with VVV-WIT-07.
Extraterrestrials? Probably not
Astronomers measured the passing of an object in front of VVV-WIT-07, obstructing about 80% of its light. ‘Different light bands are blocked at different intensities,’ Tabetha Boyajian explained at the beginning of the year, about the Tabby star which is no less mysterious. ‘Therefore, whatever the thing passing between the star and us is, it is not opaque, contrary to what one would expect of a planet or an extraterrestrial megastructure.’
What is, therefore, the origin of this drop in brightness? The verdict has not yet been made, however it would be better to forget about any extraterrestrials. The team at the origin of the study expects a new ‘eclipse’ to occur next year and hopes to learn more about the many unknown aspects of the universe.