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The Kepler Space Telescope has spotted a curious cluster of objects in space that look something you’d ‘expect an alien civilisation to build’. English Literature students can consider the way that alien life is portrayed in literature and film, and how this influences our expectations.

Astronomer Jason Wright from Penn State University has said that although aliens should always be the last hypothesis considered by astronomers, these objects are so unlike anything they have seen before, and seems to make no logical sense.

The star, KIC 8462852, first attracted the attention of astronomers in 2009, when it was identified by the Kepler’s Space Telescope as a candidate for having orbiting Earth-like planets. But the star was emitting a stranger light patters than any other stars the telescope has identified.

The telescope works by analysing light from distant places in the universe and considering the changes when the planets move in front of their stars. Physics students should look more into how this telescope works.

Analysts found the star interesting because it was surrounded by a mass of matter in tight formation, which is consistent with the mass of debris that surrounds a young star, just as it did with our sun. However, unlike our sun before the planets formed, this star is not young, and scientists are sure that the debris must have been deposited recently or it would have been swallowed by the star.

All the possible natural explanations of this phenomenon have been found to not be possible, except one – which is that another star pulled in a string of comments- but even this theory is incredibly improbable.

It is this that has piqued the interest of Jason Wright and his colleague Andrew Siemion. The scientists want to point a radio dish at the star to look for wavelengths which may indicate a technological civilisations. They are hoping to begin observation for extra-terrestrial life in January.  Students applying for Anthropology or HSPS should consider the affects that the discovery of such an extra –terrestrial civilisations may have on our society.

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