Let's back up for a second. So, the Kepler Space Telescope was built in order to search the universe for potentially habitable worlds that might exist outside of our solar system. It does this by measuring slight dips in stars' light. From this data, scientists at NASA can glean lots of information about a planet's size, orbit and distance from its home star...which are all super useful when figuring out potential habitation patterns.
Thing is, though, according to a paper published in the Oxford Journal, this star was undergoing massive light fluctuations — like, we're talking up to 20 percent. WAY more than most other stars observed by the Kepler.
No no, but seriously, the idea is actually plausible. Even publications as reputable as The Atlantic were speculating if the star was perhaps engulfed in a Dyson Sphere, which is defined as "a megastructure that completely encompasses a star and hence captures most or all of its power output."
...I for one would like to welcome our alien overlords.
Another leading hypothesis was that the star could be appearing dimmer because of a nearby asteroid belt collision, covering the area in dust. However, according to CosmosUp, that idea doesn't hold much water "due to the lack of any infrared excess."
Now, a newly-released study in the Astrophysical Journal shows that, in addition to those crazy short-term fluctuations, the telescope has also observed an extended long-term fluctuation in which the star faded about 1 percent of its total luminosity during the first three years of the study, then very suddenly dropped another 2 percent over the period of six crazy months in 2012.
So, instead of giving us more answers, this new batch of information gives us more questions! As a statement from the Carnegie Institute of Science so succinctly put it: “This star was already completely unique because of its sporadic dimming episodes. But now we see that it has other features that are just as strange, both slowly dimming for almost three years and then suddenly getting fainter much more rapidly.”
The good news? That Death Star-looking Dyson Sphere theory is still on the table. The bad news? So is a lot of other stuff. We're just going to have to wait this one out for a few hundred years before we get the full answer, folks. Eh, you weren't planning to do anything with that time, anyway, right?