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Searching for Dyson Spheres in JWST data..


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Also using GAIA and WISE data.  Many of these space-based telescopes are wide-field and have taken images of huge - literally astronomically huge - numbers of stars.  From those images have been generated large databases of various astronomical entities and their quantifiable properties, such as apparent brightness, temperature, their spectra, and a bunch of other data.  Now all that data is being plowed through for all sorts of projects.

This particular project is searching for Dyson spheres, which is a type of structure created by extremely advanced technology that completely surrounds a star, enabling the star's entire energy output to be captured and used.



Combing through all of that data is an arduous task. In this work, the team of researchers developed a special data pipeline to work its way through the combined data of all three surveys. They point out that they're searching for partially completed spheres, which would emit excess infrared radiation.

"This structure would emit waste heat in the form of mid-infrared radiation that, in addition to the level of completion of the structure, would depend on its effective temperature," Suazo and his colleagues write


In the last cut, 368 sources survived. Of those, 328 were rejected as blends, 29 were rejected as irregulars, and four were rejected as nebulars. That left only seven potential Dyson spheres out of about 5 million initial objects, and the researchers are confident that those seven are legitimate.

"All sources are clear mid-infrared emitters with no clear contaminators or signatures that indicate an obvious mid-infrared origin," they explain.

These are the seven strongest candidates, but the researchers know they're still just candidates. There could be other reasons why the seven are emitting excess infrared. "The presence of warm debris disks surrounding our candidates remains a plausible explanation for the infrared excess of our sources," they explain.

But their candidates seem to be M-type (red dwarf) stars, and debris disks around M-dwarfs are very rare. However, it gets complicated because some research suggests that debris disks around M-dwarfs form differently and present differently.

One type of debris disk called Extreme Debris Disks (EDD) can explain some of the luminosity the team sees around their candidates. "But these sources have never been observed in connection with M dwarfs," Suazo and his co-authors write.

That leaves the team with three questions: "Are our candidates strange young stars whose flux does not vary with time? Are these stars' M-dwarf debris disks with an extreme fractional luminosity? Or something completely different?"



I love this stuff!  Even if it doesn't find aliens, just going through the process generates new questions which can come up with surprising answers.




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