Boyajian's Star

Professor Jonathan Katz, Department of Physics, Washington University
March 2, 2018 at 1:30 pm
241 Compton
Event Description 

Boyajian's star was discovered in the Kepler (space) survey for exoplanetary systems. When an exoplanet passes across (transits) its star the star's brightness dips, usually in a flat bottomed light curve that repeats every orbit. Several thousand exoplanets were discovered this way. Boyajian's star is very different: it has had narrow (up to 21%) dips that have not repeated periodically, too deep to be explained as transits of a planet. Yet its star is an apparently ordinary F3V (main sequence, slightly more massive, hotter and more luminous than the Sun) star. Explanations in terms of dust clouds or extended comets also are difficult. I will suggest it is occulted by dust in our outer Solar Solar system, although this hypothesis has problems of its own.