经济学人:天文学:新星诞生(02)

Dr Molnar’ s interest was piqued at a conference in 2013, when Karen Kinemuchi, another astronomer,

Molnar博士的兴趣源于2013年的一次会议,当时一位叫做Karen Kinemuchi的天文学家提出,

presented some puzzling findings on a particular star seen by Kepler, a space telescope designed chiefly to hunt for exoplanets.

她通过专门观测系外行星的太空望远镜——开普勒发现了在一个特殊的恒星系统中有一些难以解释的现象。

When Dr Molnar and his team observed the star—named KIC9832227—they discovered that it was a “ contact binary ”,

当Molnar博士和他的团队观察这个被命名为KIC9832227的恒星系统时,他们发现这是一对“相接双星”,

a pair of stars so close together that the smaller orbits within the atmosphere of the larger.

即一对靠的很近的恒星,小恒星的轨道在大恒星的气体外壳中。

They also found that the smaller star was orbiting more quickly—and thus closer to its bigger companion—than it had been when Dr Kinemuchi made her measurements.

他们同样发现了小恒星的轨道运行速度越来越快——这意味着它越来越靠近大恒星,Kinemuchi博士当时也测量到了这一点。

Further observations confirmed that the smaller star was indeed spiralling towards its companion.

进一步的观察确认,小的恒星的确在逐渐地向大的恒星靠拢。

Based on observations of another contact binary, V1309 Scorpii, which became a nova in 2008,

天蝎座v1309的双星是2008年出现的新星,基于对这对密接双星的观察,

the researchers were able to offer a prediction of the time of impact that, they hope, should be accurate to within about seven months.

研究人员能够对碰撞时间做出预测,他们希望能够精确到7个月以内。

(The most likely date is a fifth of the way through 2022—ie, mid-March.)

(最可能的日期是2022年的五分之一处,即三月的中旬)

Successfully predicting a nova will be of interest to more than just amateur skywatchers.

并不仅仅只是业余天文观察者热衷于成功推测新星的出现。

Astronomers have built mathematical models to describe what happens during such events, but testing them against reality is hard.

天文学家们已经建立了数学模型来描述在新星出现期间会发生的事情,但是很难在没有现实依据的情况下进行证实。

All previous novas have been detected after the fact.

以往的所有新星都是在出现之后才开始进行测量。

Anyone wanting to study what happens before the explosion must therefore sift back through old observations, hoping that some information about the pre-nova star will have been recorded by chance.

因此,任何想要研究在爆炸之前发生了什么的人必须筛选旧的观察记录,希望找到在恒星变成新星之前能有一些偶然记录下的信息。

Armed with Dr Molnar’ s prediction, though, astronomers will be able to watch the build-up as well as the denouement.

尽管有了Molnar博士的预测,天文学家们在未来将会能够像已经知道结果了一样进行观测。

英文文本来自经济学人 译文来自科技三组

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