Though the erstwhile North Star has retired from its prestigious post, astronomers aren’t done discovering new things about Thuban. At a recent meeting of the American Astronomical Society scientists presented an exciting new finding: Thuban has a buddy. Thanks to NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (or TESS), astronomers noticed a faint star that eclipses Thuban every 51.4 days. The orbits are brief and the brightness of Thuban — which is 4.3x larger than our own sun and about a bajillion degrees hotter — apparently made them easy to miss.
While previously unknown stars eclipsing primordial celestial guideposts sounds like the stuff of conspiracy theory dreams, it’s unlikely the ancient Egyptians were aware of this phenomena considering it took modern humans launching a planet hunting satellite to discover. But that surely won’t stop true believers from speculating wildly. It looks like season 16 of Ancient Aliens already has some exciting new material!