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75.9亿年后太阳将与地球说再见.

(2008-03-11 16:17:26)
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分类: 中英-Chinese/English
 

 

Kissing the Earth Goodbye in About 7.59 Billion Years

By DENNIS OVERBYE

Published: March 11, 2008

 

75.9亿年后太阳将与地球说再见

 

In the end, there won’t even be fragments.

最后,就连碎片也不会残存。

 

Skip to next paragraphIf nature is left to its own devices, about 7.59 billion years from now Earth will be dragged from its orbit by an engorged red Sun and spiral to a rapid vaporous death. That is the forecast according to new calculations by a pair of astronomers, Klaus-Peter Schroeder of the University of Guanajuato in Mexico and Robert Connon Smith of the University of Sussex in England.

如果让大自然自己运行,从现在算起约75.9亿年后,地球将因火红滚沸的太阳的引力而脱离轨道,飞旋并很快蒸发消亡。这是墨西哥瓜纳华托大学天文学家克劳斯-比特-施罗德和英格兰苏塞克斯大学天文学家罗伯特-肯农-史密斯根据最新计算预测的。

 

Their report, to be published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, is the latest and gloomiest installment yet in a long-running debate about the ultimate fate of our planet. Only last year, the discovery of a giant planet orbiting the faint burned-out cinder of a star in Pegasus had suggested that Earth could survive the Sun’s death.

他们这份将刊登于“皇家天文学会月报”的报告是迄今为止关于我们这个星球最终命运长时间的讨论中最新的同时也是最悲观的一份。就在去年,在飞马星座发现了一颗巨型行星围绕一颗燃烧殆尽的恒星运转。此发现意味着在太阳生命殆尽后地球仍能存活。

 

Dr. Smith called the new result “a touch depressing” in a series of e-mail messages. But “looked at another way,” he added, “it is an incentive to do something about finding ways to leave our planet and colonize other areas in the galaxy.”

在一些电子邮件中史密斯博士称新结果“令人沮丧”。但“从另一个角度看”他说,“这也是一种激励,激励我们做些事情以发现离开我们这个星球的途径并到银河系其他地方生活。”

 

As for sentimental attachment to any of the geographic features we might have come to know and love, Dr. Smith said, “I should add that the Himalayas are a passing thought anyway. They didn’t even exist until India smashed into Asia less than 60 million years ago — the blink of an eye compared with the billions of years we are discussing.”

关于人们对已经熟悉并喜爱的地理特征会眷恋而安土重迁,史密斯博士说“喜马拉雅山脉可以作为一个参考。喜马拉雅山脉本来就不存在,而是600万年前在印度板块向亚洲版块俯冲时形成的。与我们讨论的上亿年比较而言,600万年相当于一眨眼的时间。

 

While he does not expect the argument to end, Dr. Smith said in an e-mail message that, if anything, in the new calculations he and Dr. Schroeder had underestimated the forces that would be dragging the Earth down toward the Sun.

史密斯博士不想让争论就此结束,他在一封电子邮件中说:在这次新的计算中,他和施罗德博士有可能低估了太阳对地球的引力。

 

“So,” he said, “I would be surprised if anyone were able to rescue the Earth again in a future paper.”

“所以,”他说,“将来如果有人能够论证引力没那么大并因而拯救了地球,我会感到惊奇。”

 

Roberto Silviotti of the Capodimonte Observatory in Naples, Italy, who found the planet around that dead star in Pegasus, said it was not surprising that people were interested in the fate of the earth, adding, “I think that the point is not only that this is our planet but also that the we know the solar system and the Sun much better than any other planetary system and therefore we should be able, potentially, to make much better forecasts.”

飞马星座中生命殆尽的恒星周围的那颗行星的发现者、意大利那不勒斯“凯珀蒂蒙特天文台”的罗伯特-希尔维尔蒂表示,人们对地球命运感兴趣并不惊奇,并说“我觉得,这不仅因为它是我们的星球,还因为我们对太阳系和太阳的了解远比对其他星系了解得多,因而我们应该能够,起码尽自己的能力做出更好的预测。”

 

Earth’s basic problem is that the Sun will gradually get larger and more luminous as it goes through life, according to widely held theories of stellar evolution. In its first 4.5 billion years, according to the models, the Sun has already grown about 40 percent brighter.

地球的根本问题在于,根据广为认可的天体演化理论,在整个生命过程中太阳会逐渐变得越来越大、越来越亮。根据模型,在其最初的45亿年间,太阳亮度已经增加了40%

 

Over the coming eons, life on Earth will become muggier and more uncomfortable and finally impossible.

在将来的世纪里,地球上的生命会感到更闷热、更不舒适并最终不可能存活。

 

“Even if the Earth were to marginally escape being engulfed,” said Mario Livio, an astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute, “it would still be scorched, and life on Earth would be destroyed.”

“即使地球有幸逃过被吞噬的命运,”深空探测科学院天文学家玛丽奥-力维奥说,“它也会被烧焦且地球上的生命将会被毁灭。”

 

About a billion years from now, the Sun will be 10 percent brighter. Oceans on Earth will boil away. The Sun will run out of hydrogen fuel in its core about 5.5 billion years from now and start burning hydrogen in the surrounding layers. As a result, the core will shrink and the outer layers will rapidly expand as the Sun transforms itself into a red giant.

从现在算起10亿年后,太阳亮度将会增加10%。地球上的海洋将会沸腾蒸发。55亿年后,太阳内核的氢燃料将会燃烧殆尽,外层的氢燃料就会开始燃烧。最终随着太阳变成一个巨型火球,内核将会收缩,外层将会快速膨胀。

 

The heat from this death rattle will transform the solar system; it will briefly be springtime in the Kuiper Belt out beyond Neptune. Mercury and Venus will surely be swallowed, but the Earth’s fate has always been more uncertain.

由此产生的热量将会改变太阳系。海王星之外的柯衣伯带将会如春天般温暖。水星和金星自然会被吞噬,但地球的命运总是不那么确定。

 

The reason is that in the course of ballooning outward, the Sun will blow off a substantial share of its mass. Thus, the Sun’s gravitational grip on its planets will be weakened, and they will retreat to more distant orbits. The Earth will wind up about where Mars is now, “on the border line between being engulfed or escaping engulfment,” as Dr. Livio put it.

原因在于,向外膨胀的过程中太阳本身的一部分将会散发。这样的话,太阳对各个行星的引力就会被减弱,各个行星也会撤退到更远的轨道上。到时候地球将会处在火星现在的轨道附近,“正好在被吞噬或逃脱的边界上,”,力维奥博士如是说。

 

Whether or not the Earth is engulfed depends on which of two effects wins out. At the same time that the Earth is retreating to a safer position, tidal forces between it and the expanding Sun will try to drag the planet inward and downward. In 2001, an analysis of these opposing forces by Kacper Rybicki of the Polish Institute of Geophysics and Carlos Denis of the University of Liege concluded that it looked bad but that the Earth might have a chance of surviving.

地球是否被吞噬取决于两个效应中哪个效应更强大。在地球向更安全的位置撤退的同时,地球与膨胀中的太阳之间汹涌的力量将会把地球向内向下吸引。2001年,波兰地球物理学院的卡珀-瑞比基和列日大学的卡洛斯-丹尼斯通过对这些作用力的分析总结到:情况看来比较糟糕,但是地球也可能有存活的机会。

 

According to Dr. Smith and Dr. Schroeder, that chance is nil. One key to their work is a new way of calculating how much mass the Sun loses during its cataclysmic expansion, and, thus, how big it gets and how far the Earth eventually moves outward. The more mass lost, paradoxically, the bigger the Sun swells, like a balloon whose elastic weakens when it is stretched. Using a new technique, developed by Dr. Schroeder and Manfred Cuntz of the University of Texas in Arlington, the authors calculated that the lost mass would amount to a third of the Sun’s original mass, compared with previous estimates of a quarter.

根据史密斯博士和施罗德博士的研究,那个机会是零。他们研究的一个关键在于采用了一个新的计算方法来计算太阳在巨大的膨胀过程中散失的质量是多少,它能够膨胀多大以及地球最终能够向外移动多远。正常来说,散失的质量越多,太阳变得会越大,就像气球当被拉胀时它的弹性会变小。通过运用由施罗德博士和位于阿灵顿的德克萨斯大学的曼弗雷德-昆兹研究的新方法,报告的作者们计算出散失的质量将会相当于太阳原先质量的三分之一,而之前估计的是太阳质量的四分之一。

 

As a result, the red giant version of the Sun — at its maximum — will be 256 times as big across as the star is today and 2,730 times as luminous.

最终,在其最大的时候,那个红色巨型太阳将会比现在大256倍,比现在亮2730倍。

 

Skimming over the flame tops of this giant, the bare, burned Earth would produce a bulge in the Sun. But friction would cause the bulge to lag as it tried to follow the Earth. The gravitational tug from the bulge would slow the Earth and would cause it to spiral inward, where friction from gases in the Sun’s expanded atmosphere would slow it even more.

当裸露、烧灼的地球在巨型太阳的火苗之上运行时,朝太阳的方向地球会产生一个凸起。凸起随着地球运行时,由于摩擦力的原因凸起会拖拽地球。凸起产生的托拽力将会减慢地球的速度并使地球盘旋式向内运行,太阳外围气体产生的摩擦力会进一步减慢地球的速度。

 

Then it would go down.

然后,它就会跌落被吞噬。

 

After a period of burning helium and shrinking and expanding and then finally shrinking again, the Sun will wind up as tiny cinder known as a white dwarf, fading away for the rest of time.

经过氦燃烧、收缩、膨胀然后最终再收缩,太阳将会变成一个小残骸,也就是众所周知的白色矮星,从而永久消失。

 

Is there any way out of this fiery end for the robots or cockroaches or whoever will be running the Earth in a billion years?

对于亿万年之后掌控这个地球的机器人们或者蟑螂们或者其他什么们,有没有逃脱被烧焦的途径呢?

 

One option is to leave for another planet or another star system.

有个选择就是离开地球到另一个行星或另一个太阳系去。

 

Another option, Dr. Smith said, is to engage in some large-scale high-stakes engineering.

还有另外一个选择,史密斯博士说,那就是开始一些大型、高投资工程。

 

In the same way that space probes can get a trajectory boost by playing gravitational billiards with Venus or Jupiter to gain speed and get farther out in space, so the Earth could engineer regular encounters with a comet or asteroid, thus raising its orbit and getting farther from the Sun, according to a paper in 2001 by Don Korycansky and Gregory Laughlin of the University of California, Santa Cruz, and Fred Adams of the University of Michigan.

根据加利福尼亚大学杜恩-柯伊坎斯基和戈雷戈里-劳夫林与密歇根大学桑塔-柯鲁兹和福雷德-亚当斯2001年的论文,就像太空探测器可以通过向金星或木星发射弹子而获得反向力量进而获得速度并在太空中走的更远一样,地球可以通过与彗星或小行星的类似作用力来提升轨道并距离太阳更远。

 

Dr. Laughlin said that when their paper first came out, they were praised by the radio host Rush Limbaugh and other conservatives for forward thinking.

劳夫林博士说他们的论文刚刚发表就获得了电台主持人路什-林姆堡和预言学领域其他保守派们的褒奖

 

But Dr. Laughlin said they were actually not advocating the orbit-shifting project, noting that a miscalculation could lead to the comet’s hitting the Earth.

但劳夫林博士还说他们实际上并不赞同“地球移轨工程”,表示误算会导致彗星撞击地球。

 

“There are profound ethical issues involved,” he wrote in an e-mail message, “and the cost of failure (an Earth-sterilizing impact) is unacceptably high.”

“这也与深远的伦理问题有关,”他在一电子邮件中写到,“并且失败(相当于一次地球节育)的成本之高难以接受。”

 

Anyway, such a maneuver would prolong the viability of the Earth for only a few billion years. After that, the planet would be stranded in the cold and dim.

不管怎样,那样的一次变轨只能把地球的生命延长仅几十亿年。之后,这颗行星最终还会处于冰冷和阴暗之中。

 

From: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/11/science/space/11earth.html?_r=1&8dpc&oref=slogin

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