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科学家发现7颗类地行星,可能存在生命

更新时间:2017-2-23 18:48:10 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

7 Earth-Size Planets Orbit Dwarf Star, NASA and European Astronomers Say
科学家发现7颗类地行星,可能存在生命

Not just one, but seven Earth-size planets that could potentially harbor life have been identified orbiting a tiny star not too far away, offering the first realistic opportunity to search for signs of alien life outside of the solar system.

科学家发现,在一颗距离地球不算遥远的小恒星周围,有不止一颗,而是七颗行星在围绕其轨道运行。这些行星的大小和地球大小相当,可能存在生命。人类寻找太阳系之外的外星生命迹象,第一次有了现实可能性。

The planets orbit a dwarf star named Trappist-1, about 40 light years, or 235 trillion miles, from Earth. That is quite close in cosmic terms, and the orientation of the orbits of the seven planets allows them to be studied in great detail.

这些行星围绕着一颗名为Trappist-1的矮星旋转,它距地球约40光年,即235万亿英里。从宇宙的角度说,这个距离非常近,并且这七颗行星的轨道方位很适合科学家对它们进行详细的研究。

One or more of the exoplanets in this new system could be at the right temperature to be awash in oceans of water, astronomers said, based on the distance of the planets from the dwarf star.

天文学家说,从行星与矮星的距离来看,这个新的星系可能有一颗或多颗外行星拥有合适的温度,从而拥有大量的水。

An artist’s rendering of the seven planets that orbit the star named Trappist-1, in order of their distance from the star.
围绕Trappist-1运转的七颗行星图,此图依照这些行星与Trappist-1间的距离来绘制。

“This is the first time so many planets of this kind are found around the same star,” Michael Gillon, an astronomer at the University of Liege in Belgium and the leader of an international team that has been observing Trappist-1, said during a telephone news conference organized by the journal Nature, which published the findings on Wednesday.

“这是第一次在同一颗恒星周围发现了这么多这样的行星,”比利时列日大学(University of Liege)天文学家、Trappist-1国际观察团队的负责人迈克尔·吉隆(Michael Gillon)在《自然》(Nature)杂志组织的一个电话新闻发布会上说道。本周三,该杂志公布了这一发现。

Scientists could even discover compelling evidence of aliens.

科学家甚至有可能发现关于外星人的强有力证据。

“I think that we have made a crucial step toward finding if there is life out there,” said Amaury H.M.J. Triaud, an astronomer at the University of Cambridge in England and another member of the research team. “Here, if life managed to thrive and releases gases similar to that we have on Earth, then we will know.”

“我认为,对于了解那里是否存在生命,我们已经迈出了关键的一步,”英国剑桥大学的天文学家、该研究团队的另一名成员阿穆里·H·M·J·托奥德 (Amaury H.M.J. Triaud)说。“如果那里出现了生命,并释放了类似于我们在地球上的气体,那么我们就会知道。”

Telescopes on the ground now and the Hubble Space Telescope in orbit will be able to discern some of the molecules in the planetary atmospheres. The James Webb Telescope, scheduled to launch next year, will peer at the infrared wavelengths of light, ideal for studying Trappist-1.

地球上的望远镜和轨道上的哈勃太空望远镜,将会辨别出行星环境中的一些分子。定于明年启用的詹姆斯·韦伯空间望远镜(James Webb Telescope)将观察光的红外波长,它是研究Trappist-1的理想之选。

“The Trappist-1 planets make the search for life in the galaxy imminent,” said Sara Seager, an astronomer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who was not a member of the research team. “For the first time ever, we don’t have to speculate. We just have to wait and then make very careful observations and see what is in the atmospheres of the Trappist planets.”

麻省理工学院的天文学家萨拉·西格(Sara Seager,她并非该研究团队成员)表示,“Trappist-1的行星发现使得在银河系搜寻生命即将到来。这还是第一次我们不必去猜测,只需要等待,然后进行非常仔细的观察,看看在Trappist行星的大气中有什么。”

While the Trappist planets are about the size of Earth, the star is very different from our sun.

虽然Trappist的行星大小和地球差不多,但这颗恒星却与我们的太阳大不相同。

Trappist-1 is what astronomers call an “ultracool dwarf,” with only one-twelfth the mass of the sun and a surface temperature of 4,150 degrees Fahrenheit, much cooler than the 10,000 degrees radiating from the sun.

Trappist-1是天文学家所说的那种“超冷小矮星”,质量只有太阳的十二分之一,表面温度为4150华氏度(约合2288摄氏度),比太阳表面温度10000华氏度(约合5538摄氏度)低得多。

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