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TSS独家报道:科学家为寻找这颗难以捉摸的行星绘制了藏宝图

TSS EXCLUSIVE: Scientists Create Treasure Map for Hunting the Elusive Planet 9

by Rhodilee Jean Dolor

Some scientists believe that another planet is lurking in the Solar System. Planet Nine has not yet been found, but researchers of a new study have created a “treasure map” that may eventually help find this elusive world.

一些科学家认为太阳系中潜伏着另一颗行星。第九大行星尚未被发现,但一项新研究的研究人员绘制了一张“藏宝图”,可能最终有助于找到这个难以捉摸的星球。

Why Scientists Think Planet 9 Exists

为什么科学家认为第九号行星存在

Some astronomers think that Planet Nine exists based on the behavior of objects in the Kuiper Belt, a region of icy bodies beyond Neptune.

一些天文学家认为第九颗行星的存在是基于柯伊伯带中物体的行为,柯伊伯带是海王星之外的冰状天体区域。

In a 2016 study, Mike Brown and Konstantin Batygin, from the Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, examined six Kuiper Belt Objects (KBOs) and found that they follow elliptical orbits that point in the same direction. The researchers said that the chances of this happening is 1 in 100 since the outermost points of these orbits move around the Solar System at different rates.

在2016年的一项研究中,来自帕萨迪纳加州理工学院地质和行星科学部的Mike Brown和Konstantin Batygin观察了6个柯伊伯带天体(KBOs),发现它们沿着指向相同方向的椭圆轨道运行。研究人员说,这种情况发生的几率是百分之一,因为这些轨道的最外层以不同的速度围绕太阳系运行。

“It’s almost like having six hands on a clock all moving at different rates, and when you happen to look up, they’re all in exactly the same place,” Brown said at the time.

Brown当时说:“这几乎就像一个时钟上有六根指针,都以不同的速度移动,而当你碰巧抬头看时,它们都在完全相同的地方。”

Brown and Batygin also observed that the orbits of the six KBOs are tilted in the same way and the probability of this happening is just about 0.007 percent. 

Brown和Batygin还观察到,6个KBOs的轨道以同样的方式倾斜,这种情况发生的概率仅为0.007%。

“Basically it shouldn’t happen randomly so we thought something else must be shaping these orbits.”

“基本上,它不应该随机发生,所以我们认为一定有其他东西造就了这些轨道。”

The researchers analyzed these phenomena and concluded that the gravity of a previously undiscovered planet –the theoretical Planet Nine, could be causing the unusual orbits of the KBOs.

研究人员分析了这些现象,并得出结论,一颗之前未被发现的行星——理论上的第九颗行星的引力,可能是造成KBOs轨道不寻常的原因。

“Our proposed perturber may be more reasonably reconciled with a dynamical scattering origin. Specifically, it is possible that our perturber represents a primordial giant planet core that was ejected during the nebular epoch of the Solar System’s evolution,” Brown and Batygin wrote in their study, published in The Astronomical Journal on Jan. 20, 2016. 

“我们提出的微扰可能更合理地与动力散射起源相一致。具体来说,这个扰动物可能代表了一个原始巨行星内核,它是在太阳系进化的星云期被抛出的,”Brown和Batygin在他们的研究中写道,该研究发表在2016年1月20日的《天文学杂志》上。

“Recent simulations have demonstrated that such a scenario may in fact be an expected outcome of the early evolution of planetary systems”

“最近的模拟表明,这种情况实际上可能是行星系统早期进化的预期结果。”

How Scientists Created the ‘Treasure Map’ for Finding the Elusive World

科学家是如何绘制“藏宝图”来寻找这个难以捉摸的行星的

Using mathematical modeling and computer simulations, Brown and Batygin were able to infer the features and characteristics of Planet Nine, but to date, the object has not yet been found.

通过数学建模和计算机模拟,Brown和Batygin能够推断第九颗行星的数据和特征,但迄今为止,该天体还没有被发现。

To facilitate the search for the elusive planet, the researchers published a new study that proposed what could be considered as a treasure map that can guide planet hunters to the likely location of this theoretical world. 

为了便于寻找这颗难以捉摸的行星,研究人员发表了一项新研究,提出了一份可以被认为是藏宝图的东西,可以指导他们找到这个理论世界的可能位置。

To make the map, Brown and Batygin examined observations of all known KBOs with orbits that they believe are influenced by Planet Nine.

为了绘制这幅地图,Brown和Batygin对所有已知KBOs的观测结果进行了分析,他们认为这些KBOs的轨道受到了第九大行星的影响。

The first step was to filter out Neptune’s tugs on these objects. They also used numerical simulations to find out how changes to the parameters of Planet Nine would alter the outer solar system. 

第一步是过滤掉海王星对这些物体的引力。他们还使用数值模拟来发现第九大行星参数的变化会如何改变太阳系外部的宇宙。

“We accomplished this through a huge number of numerical simulations where we placed a bunch of objects in the outer solar system, added the four giant planets, and then added different incarnations of Planet Nine, and watched the outer solar system evolve,” Brown said. “Every parameter of Planet Nine (almost) has huge impacts on the outer solar system. Which is good, since that means we have leverage to learn about Planet Nine from the outer solar system.”

“我们通过大量的数模拟来实现这一目标。我们在太阳系外放置了一些物体,加入了四颗巨行星,然后加入了第九颗行星的不同版本,观察了太阳系外的演变。”Brown说,“第九大行星的每一个参数(几乎)都对外太阳系有巨大的影响。这很好,因为这意味着我们有机会从太阳系外了解第九颗行星。”

Using the maximum likelihood model that combined simulations, observational bias and observations of the relevant objects along with the MCMC statistics method, the researchers came up with a map that shows where Planet Nine can be likely found.

利用最大似然模型,结合模拟、观测偏差和相关物体的观测,以及MCMC统计方法,研究人员得出了一幅地图,显示了第九大行星可能被发现的位置。

Characteristics and Location of Planet 9

第九大行星的特征和位置

The study, which has been accepted for publication in the Astronomical Journal, also offered a picture of the distant planet. The researchers said that this world is about 6.2 times as massive as the Earth and gets nearest the sun in its elliptical orbit at a distance of 380 astronomical units (AU), or 380 times the distance between the Earth and sun. 

该研究还提供了这颗遥远行星的照片,已被《天文杂志》接受发表。研究人员表示,这个的质量大约是地球的6.2倍,在椭圆轨道上距离太阳最近的距离是380个天文单位(AU),也就是地球到太阳的距离的380倍。

Planet Nine is also believed to be orbiting closer to Earth than previously thought. The closer it is to our planet, the brighter it should be, but on average, the brightness of Planet Nine is magnitude 22, according to the researchers. For perspective, the average magnitude of Pluto is around 15 and it is only visible using at least 10-inch telescopes. Brown and Batygin, however, said that the estimated brightness of Planet Nine is based on its assumed composition.

第九大行星的轨道也被认为比之前认为的更接近地球。据研究人员称,离我们的行星越近,它就应该越亮,但平均来说,第九颗行星的亮度是22等。冥王星的平均星等大约是15等,只有用至少10英寸的望远镜才能看到它。然而,Brown和Batygin表示,第九颗行星的亮度估计是基于其假定的组成。

As for its orbital inclination, or how much it is tilted from the plane of the Solar System, Planet Nine is inclined at around 16 degrees. For comparison, Earth’s orbital inclination is zero degrees.

至于它的轨道倾角,或者说它与太阳系平面的倾斜度,第九大行星的倾斜度约为16度。相比之下,地球的轨道倾斜度为零。

“Planet Nine has a mass of  6.2/+2.2/-1.3 Earth masses, a semimajor axis of 380/+140/-80 AU, and inclination of 16+/-5 degrees,  and perihelion of 300/+85/-60 AU. We can turn all of that into a map of where to look in the sky and of how bright and far away Planet Nine would be at any position in the sky,” Brown said.

“第九颗行星的质量是地球的6.2/+2.2/-1.3倍,半长轴为380/+140/-80天文单位,倾角为16+/-5度,近日点为300/+85/-60天文单位。我们可以把所有这些信息转化成一幅地图,显示在天空的哪个位置可以观测到,以及第九大行星在天空中任何位置的亮度和距离。”Brown说

Brown said that if the theoretical world does exist, it is more likely a gas giant like Neptune and not a rocky planet like Earth. Planet Nine would be smaller than Neptune though, which is at least 17 times more massive than our home planet as most gas giants observed by astronomers are just about six to 10 times the mass of Earth. 

Brown说,如果该理论世界确实存在,那么它更有可能是一颗像海王星那样的气体巨星,而不是像地球那样的岩石行星。九号行星比海王星要小,海王星的质量至少是地球的17倍,因为天文学家观测到的大多数气态巨星的质量只有地球的6到10倍。

He added that the planet likely formed at about the same distance from the sun as Neptune and Uranus, but the strong gravity of Saturn later tossed it far into the outer reaches of the Solar System.

他补充说,这颗行星与太阳的距离可能与海王星和天王星差不多,但土星的强大引力后来把它抛到了太阳系的外围。

Still a Theoretical World

仍然是停留于理论上的世界

Despite Brown and Batygin’s claims, some astronomers remain skeptical of the idea of Planet Nine absent any conclusive proof that it exists. Scientists hope that the availability of more advanced tools such as the Vera Rubin Observatory, which is currently under construction in Chile and is set to be operational by October 2023, may eventually lead to the discovery of this theoretical world or rule out its existence.

尽管Brown和Batygin提出了上述观点,但一些天文学家仍对第九大行星的存在持怀疑态度,因为没有确凿的证据证明它的存在。科学家们希望,更先进的工具的可用性,如维拉鲁宾天文台,目前正在智利建设,并将于2023年10月投入使用,可能最终导致发现这个理论世界或排除它的存在。

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