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韦伯太空望远镜发回深空奇景,我们了解到这五件事

Five Things Learned From the Webb Telescope’s First Images
韦伯太空望远镜发回深空奇景,我们了解到这五件事

This article is based on earlier reporting by Kenneth Chang, Dennis Overbye, Joshua Sokol and Carl Zimmer.

本文基于肯尼斯·张(音)、丹尼斯·奥弗拜、约书亚·索科尔和卡尔·齐默早些时候的报道。

NASA on Tuesday released five images from the early work of the James Webb Space Telescope. The pictures highlighted the great potential of the telescope to plumb the secrets of deep space. Below are some of the things we have learned so far.

美国宇航局周二发布了詹姆斯·韦伯太空望远镜早期拍摄的五张图像。这些照片凸显了望远镜探索深空秘密的巨大潜力。以下是我们目前了解到的信息。

五个发现,五个星系:史蒂芬五重星系由詹姆斯韦伯太空望远镜拍摄并于周二发布。

The telescope works really, really well.

这台太空望远镜的效果极佳。


NASA’s experience with the Hubble Space Telescope sending back blurry images showed that advanced scientific instruments sometimes did not work as intended. Astronauts made multiple trips to the Hubble to repair it, but no such fixes were possible for the Webb, which is much farther from Earth than any human has traveled.

NASA从哈勃太空望远镜获得模糊图像的经验表明,先进的科学仪器有时无法取得预期效果。宇航员多次前往哈勃望远镜进行修复,但韦伯望远镜位于人类从未到达过的遥远位置,无法进行这样的修复。

After the anticipation and anxiety of the launch and then the deployment of the telescope, its mirrors and the sun shield, the mission’s scientists then had to make sure that its scientific tool kit operated properly.

该望远镜在期待和焦虑中发射升空后,科学家对望远镜、镜面和遮阳装置进行了部署,接下来,他们必须确保其科学工具套件正常运行。

They did, spectacularly, as Jane Rigby, the operations project scientist for the telescope, explained during a news conference on Tuesday.

望远镜的运行项目科学家简·里格比在周二的新闻发布会上表示,它们运行良好,令人叹为观止。

“I had the very emotional reaction of ‘Oh my goodness, it works,’” she said, describing the first razor-sharp test images the telescope sent home. “And it works better than we thought.”

她描述望远镜发送回基地的第一张清晰的测试图像时说:“我的反应非常激动,‘谢天谢地,它运转正常’。而且效果比我们想象得要好。”

Or as hundreds of scientists put it in a paper that was published online on Tuesday but was not yet peer-reviewed, “The telescope and instrument suite have demonstrated the sensitivity, stability, image quality, and spectral range that are necessary to transform our understanding of the cosmos through observations spanning from near-earth asteroids to the most distant galaxies.”

或者正如数百名科学家周二在网络上发表但尚未经过同行评审的论文中所说的那样,“我们将通过从近地小行星到最遥远星系的观测来改变我们对宇宙的认识,该望远镜和仪器套组已经展示出做到这一点所需要的灵敏度、稳定性、图像质量和光谱范围。”

The scientific research is already underway. Some 13 projects have been deemed Early Release Science Programs, chosen to jump start the Webb era. They cover a range of categories and include our solar system, galaxies and intergalactic space, massive black holes and the galaxies they live in as well as the evolution of stars.

科学研究已经在进行中。大约13个项目被选为开启韦伯时代的项目,命名为“早期发布科学计划”。它们涵盖了一系列类别,包括我们的太阳系、星系和星系间空间、大质量黑洞和它们所在星系以及恒星的演化。

“The science results are going to be rolling out from here on in,” Dr. Rigby said.

“科学成果将从现在开始纷至沓来,”里格比说。

We’ll see deeper into the universe’s past than ever.

我们将比以往更深入地了解宇宙的过去。


President Biden on Monday introduced an image made by the Webb telescope that NASA officials and astronomers hailed as one of the deepest images yet taken of the cosmos, a mark that will probably be passed soon as more data spews forth from NASA’s computers.

周一,拜登总统展示了由韦伯望远镜拍摄的图像,NASA官员和天文学家称赞该图像是迄今为止拍摄的宇宙最深的图像之一,随着更多来自NASA计算机的数据出现,这一头衔可能将很快成为过去。

The image of a distant star cluster called SMACS 0723 revealed the presence of still more-distant galaxies spilled across the sky. The light from those galaxies, magnified into visibility by the gravitational field of the cluster, originated more than 13 billion years ago.

图像中的遥远星团被命名为SMACS 0723,揭示了更为遥远的星系的存在。来自这些星系的光是超过130亿年前发出的,通过该星团的引力场放大而可见。

Astronomers theorize that the most distant, earliest stars may be unlike the stars we see today. The first stars were composed of pure hydrogen and helium left over from the Big Bang, and they could grow far more massive than the sun — and then collapse quickly and violently into supermassive black holes of the kind that now populate the centers of most galaxies.

天文学家推测,最遥远、最早的恒星可能与我们今天看到的恒星不同。第一批恒星由宇宙大爆炸遗留下来的纯氢和氦组成,它们的质量可能比太阳大得多——然后迅速而猛烈地坍缩成现在存在于大多数星系中心的超大质量黑洞。

We’ll uncover the atmospheres of distant planets.

我们将拨开遥远行星的大气层。


The spectra for the Jupiter-size exoplanet WASP-96b was not the most impressive image put up on screens on Tuesday — rather than mind-bending cosmic cliffs it showed slopes of a chart recorded as the planet passed in front of its star 1,120 light-years away. But when astronomers who operate the Webb telescope at the Space Science Telescope Institute in Baltimore saw it, they gasped and applauded.

周二,屏幕上最惊人的图像并非WASP-96b这颗木星大小的系外行星的光谱——它显示的不是令人费解的宇宙悬崖,而是这颗行星从1120光年外的恒星前经过时图表记录的斜坡。但是,当在巴尔的摩太空科学望远镜研究所里操作韦伯望远镜的天文学家看到它时,他们倒吸了一口气,鼓掌欢呼。

“I’m beyond stoked to be sharing this with you,” said Nestor Espinoza, an astronomer there.

“能和你们分享这一切,我兴奋极了,”在现场的天文学家内斯特·埃斯皮诺萨说。

The planet had been studied before from the ground and with the Hubble. But the Webb telescope picked up evidence of water vapor, hazes and some previously unseen clouds, too. That surprised scientists.

此前,这颗行星已经通过地面和哈勃望远镜被研究过。但韦伯望远镜发现了水蒸气、烟雾和一些以前从未见过的云的证据。这是科学家们没想到的。

While WASP-96b is highly unlikely to be home to anything living, using the same techniques could reveal whether smaller, rocky worlds orbiting other stars are habitable.

尽管WASP-96b极不可能有任何生命存在,但使用同样的技术可以揭示围绕其他恒星运行的较小的岩石世界是否适合居住。

“I think we will be able to find planets that we think are interesting — you know, good possibilities for life,” said Megan Mansfield, an astronomer at the University of Arizona. “But we won’t necessarily be able to just identify life immediately.”

“我认为我们将会找到我们认为有趣的行星——你知道,有生命存在的可能性,”亚利桑那大学的天文学家梅根·曼斯菲尔德说。“但我们不见得马上就能识别到生命。”

The relatively small size of these exoplanets has made them extremely difficult to study, until now. The Webb telescope will let astronomers look more closely at these worlds.

这些系外行星的体积相对较小,在以前,这使得它们极其难以研究。韦伯望远镜将让天文学家可以更仔细地观察这些行星。

The space telescope “is the first big space observatory to take the study of exoplanet atmospheres into account in its design,” Dr. Mansfield said.

曼斯菲尔德说,这台太空望远镜“是第一个在设计中考虑到系外行星大气研究的大型太空观测站”。

There are already some targets in mind, like Trappist-1, a star that has multiple planets in its zone of habitability. “We’ll just have to wait for time to reveal the story,” said Knicole Colón, the telescope’s deputy project scientist for exoplanet science.

他们已经有了一些目标,比如Trappist-1,这颗恒星的宜居带拥有多颗行星。该望远镜负责系外行星科学的副项目科学家尼克尔·科隆说:“我们只能等待,让时间来揭示这个故事。”

We’ll discover the unexpected.

我们会发现意想不到的东西。


The Webb presentation gave us gasp-inducing images of the Southern Ring Nebula, a sphere of gas and dust belched by a dying star, and Stephan’s Quintet, a grouping of galaxies millions of light-years away.

韦伯的发布给我们带来了令人惊叹的图像,包括南环星云,这是由一颗垂死的恒星喷出的气体和尘埃组成的球体;还有史蒂芬五重星系,一个数百万光年外的星系群。

But the most striking image was of the Carina nebula, a vast, swirling cloud of dust that is both a star nursery and home to some of the most luminous and explosive stars in the Milky Way. Seen in infrared, the nebula resembled a looming, eroded coastal cliff dotted with hundreds of stars that astronomers had never seen before.

但最引人注目的图像是船底座星云,这是一个巨大的漩涡状尘埃云,它是恒星的摇篮,也拥有银河系中一些最明亮的爆炸恒星。用红外线观察,这个星云就像一座被侵蚀的海岸悬崖,若隐若现,上面点缀着数百颗天文学家从未见过的恒星。

“It took me awhile to figure out what to call out in this image,” Amber Straughn, a deputy project scientist for the telescope, said as she pointed to a craggy structure.

“我花了一段时间才弄明白这张照片里惊人的东西是什么,”副项目科学家安布尔·斯特劳恩指着一个陡峭的构造说。

The picture also contained structures that scientists couldn’t explain, like one weird, curving feature.

这张照片还包含了一些科学家无法解释的构造,比如一个奇怪的弯曲特征。

“As always, there is room for the unexpected,” said Amaya Moro-Martin, an astronomer at the at the Space Telescope Science Institute who presented the image to her colleagues there on Tuesday. “We have no idea what this is.”

周二,太空望远镜科学研究所的天文学家阿马亚·莫罗-马丁将这张照片展示给同事们,“总会有意想不到的事情发生,”他说。“我们不知道这是什么。”

Expect many more such discoveries from the Webb — things never before seen, and in need of an explanation.

人们期待韦伯号能有更多这样的发现——以前从未见过的、需要解释的东西。

The telescope remains fragile.

望远镜仍然很脆弱。


For a spacecraft like the James Webb Space Telescope, it was inevitable that pieces of cosmic dust would hit its mirrors. Still, it was an unwelcome surprise for NASA officials to find that one of the telescope’s mirrors had been damaged by a micrometeoroid strike in late May and that the hit was larger than had been expected.

对于像詹姆斯·韦伯太空望远镜这样的航天器来说,被宇宙尘埃碎片撞击镜面是不可避免的。尽管如此,NASA的官员们还是意外地发现,望远镜的一块镜片在5月底的一次微流星体撞击中受损,而且撞击的规模比预期的要大,这个发现令人失望。

NASA officials said the distortion was barely noticeable and the performance of Webb still exceeds all of its requirements. Engineers also tweaked the position of the damaged mirror to cancel out part of the distortion.

NASA官员表示几乎注意不到变形,韦伯的表现仍然超出所有要求。工程师们还调整了受损镜面的位置,以消除部分变形。

Before the incident was reported, four smaller micrometeoroids had already hit the telescope.

在收到这一事件的报告之前,四颗较小的微流星体已经击中了望远镜。

“The biggest concern on our minds is just the micrometeorite environment,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, the associate administrator of NASA for science missions.

“我们最担心的只是微陨石环境,”NASA负责科学任务的副局长托马斯·祖布臣说。

Dr. Zurbuchen said NASA is evaluating flight options to increase the likelihood that any dust that does strike the telescope hits the backside, not the front of the mirrors.

祖布臣表示,NASA正在评估飞行方案,让宇宙尘埃尽可能击中镜片的背面而不是正面。
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