RSAA Colloquia / Seminars / Feast-of-Facts: Friday, 03 March 2017, 14:00-14:20; Duffield Lecture Theatre

Grant Kennedy

"Things that go bump in the night: the comet interpretation of Boyajian's star"

Boyajian’s star, an otherwise unremarkable F-type dwarf, underwent several unusual dimming events over the four years it was observed by Kepler. Subsequent work has also found a long-term trend, though the details of this "secular dimming" remain controversial. Proposed explanations include post-collisional debris, cometary dust, interstellar material, and alien megastructures. I will discuss some of the typical circumstellar causes of large-scale stellar variability, why these are a poor explanation for Boyajian’s star, and current work that explores the cometary dust interpretation.