Re: Speculation: Could this be an OSETI event?

Philip Plait (
Thu, 19 Aug 1999 09:54:05 -0400

My two cents about the mystery object: I study low mass stars, some of which are so cool they can have all sorts of weird atmospheric absorption. We see water vapor (steam!) in some, for example. A star is basically a source of continuum emission with selected wavelengths absorbed out by its atmosphere. In these cool stars, molecules form in the atmosphere and absorb away broad bands, leaving large gaps, narrow gaps, spikes, all sorts of features. In very cool stars, there's hardly any continuum left; just a zoo of bumps and wiggles. Getting colors and temperatures from such stars is difficult! It's like randomly selecting three pages from a novel and trying to deduce the plot.

While I am intrigued by looking for pulses in those two peaks in the spectrum, I wonder if they are simply remnants of a heavily absorbed continuum spectrum. I'm personally wondering if this thing is a very weird nearby star or a very weird distant quasar!

I'm also interested in looking into this object myself. I'll have more about it on my website as I find out more.


Phil Plait          
The Bad Astronomy Web Page: