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View count:106,883
Likes:2,269
Dislikes:68
Comments:403
Duration:25:40
Uploaded:2016-08-24
Last sync:2017-04-17 15:20
Hank and Tabetha discuss the mysterious star KIC 8462852 and what might explain its odd behavior (It's probably not an alien megastructure).

Hosted by: Hank Green
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Images:
http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/kepler/multimedia/images/kepler-transit-graph.html
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:KIC_8462852_-_Helligkeitseinbruch_05._M%C3%A4rz_2011.png
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:LCS_Node_20110823_018.jpg
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:KIC_8462852_in_IR_and_UV.png
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:KIC_8462852_-_Helligkeitseinbruch_28._Februar_2013.png

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(Intro plays)

Hank: Hello, and welcome to the SciShow Interview Show, where we talk to interesting people about interesting stuff remotely through Skype.  I'm in Missoula and Tabetha Boyajian, did I say that right?  

Tabetha: Boyajian.

H: Boyajian, you are in Louisiana, former researcher at Yale University, currently at LSU and you've been working on maybe one of the weirdest things that has happened in astronomy research in a long time.  Tell us about this weird thing.  

T: I work on the science team as part of the Planet Hunters citizen science project, which is a part of (?~0:51) collaboration, and what Planet Hunters does, it's an interface that shows data from NASA's Kepler mission to the public, and so, you know, people can sign on and look for what we call transits in this data.  We cover telescope measures as far as brightness vs time and when a planet crosses in front of a star, then it blocks out a tiny bit of light, and you can see this in this data, and this is what the Planet Hunter researchers, the citizen scientists, are looking for, and the thing is like, when you're going through all this data, you're looking at every single star and you know, what every single star does, and stars can do lots of things.  They can pulsate, they can have flairs, they can have spots, they can be a binary star, many, many different phenomenon.  But they came across this one star that didn't really like, fit into any classification that, you know, they had seen before when they started talking about it and discussing it amongst themselves.  They get to the point where they got something off to, you know, reach out to the scientists and say, hey, what's this?  

H: Yeah, when--we're looking at Kepler data, usually we're running, I assume, because it's so many stars and the vast majority of them are nothing really of particular interest is going on, so I assume that we have computer programs that are trying to find specific patterns and they're pulling those out and then later for direct analysis by scientists. 

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But if it's not fitting that particular pattern, it's not necessarily getting pulled out by those programs and thus not even getting looked at, so is this citizen science group, is it the goal is to try and find some things that might not be noticed by computer programs?

T: Um, well, I mean, you're right about that, computers do exactly what you tell them to do, and you know, especially with time series data as simple as this, you would think that, you know, like, the computer would be able to pull out, you know, something as periodic as a planet in orbit transitting around a star, and so that was kind of a gamble when we set up the Planet Hunters project is that it was designed to look for transits which computer programs were looking for the exact same thing.

H: Right.

T: But, you know, we've actually found dozens and dozens that have been missed by the computer programs and this has been able to inform the algorithms on, you know, where they have, like, you know, leaks in the pipelines and so they can patch those up so that it can be more and more efficient, but you know, again, as you said, like, I mean, you can also see, since you're, you know, people are viewing these data with their eyes, you know, they can spot out something that you weren't actually looking for in the first place.

H: Yeah, so you guys noticed a particularly--or somebody at Planet Hunters noticed a particularly weird looking signal and that became a pretty big story.  What is this star and what did it look like?  

T: Well, the Kepler data lasts for four years, and it took a brightness measurement of a star over 30 minutes, and what we see for most of the time, the star's light or it's light curve is flat, meaning it's not really doing much of anything.  

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