注记:最近没有更新最主要是因为实在没啥可更新的(不过本来就没人看的话更新不更新也没啥所谓了),不是没有干活。我的电脑现在还在算 n=31 的优美树的东西,我本人也翻译了两篇相当长的文章,但是由于种种原因(帮别人翻译的~~~怕版权有问题~~~虽然那帮人似乎很好说话~~~)暂时还没能发布,估计再过两个星期起码应该其中一篇就能贴出来了~~~现在更新个小翻译给大家看看吧~~~


标题:Stars in their eyes / 他们眼中的星辰
作者:佚名(来自 Economist)
日期:2008 年 6 月 26 日
概要:简要介绍了 Galaxy Zoo 的一个新发现和未来展望

An armchair astronomer discovers something very odd

THE task of peering into the cosmos and discovering strange new galaxies sounds like a job for astronomers armed with big and very expensive telescopes. But almost a year ago that all changed when a group of stargazers decided to ask the public to help in a project to explore the northern sky.

The Sloan Digital Sky Survey had been looking in this part of space for 16 years, producing so much information that astronomers assumed they would never get through it. So the public was let loose, to help sort what they had found. The scheme is called the Galaxy Zoo project.
Sloan 数字化巡天项目已经在这个天区进行了十六年的观察,它记录了如此多的数据,以至于天文学家们认为他们根本没办法一一查看它们。所以他们就希望让公众帮忙整理这些资料,整个计划的名字就叫星系动物园(Galaxy Zoo)。

It was so popular, says Alex Szalay, an astronomer at John Hopkins University, Maryland, that the computer servers on which the project ran “literally overheated and blew a fuse”. More important, within a month of the opening, Hanny van Arkel, a physics teacher from the Netherlands, posted a message on the zoo’s forum about some strange blue stuff she had spotted and asked what it might be.
马里兰州约翰·霍普金斯大学的天文学家 Alex Szalay 说,这个项目实在太受欢迎了,弄得项目的服务器就像参加者的情绪一样,“过分火热,连保险丝都熔掉了”。更重要的是,项目开始之后还没到一个月,荷兰的一位物理教师 Hanny van Arkel 就发现了一些她看不懂的东西,于是她便到项目的论坛上求助,询问她看到的一些奇怪的蓝色东西有可能是什么。

By January the zoo’s professional keepers had started to pay attention to what the teacher had called a voorwerp, the Dutch word for object. Now it is becoming famous. William Keel, an astronomer at the University of Alabama, took another picture of the voorwerp and suggested that the human eye would probably see it as green, rather than blue as in the original picture. It also has a giant hole at its centre.
在一月份,这个“动物园”的管理员就开始注意到这位教师所提到的东西,她把它叫做 voorwerp ,这个词在荷兰语中的意思就是“物体”。现在这个“物体”开始变得有名气了。阿拉巴马大学的天文学家 William Keel 给它重新照了一张照片,并且认为“物体”在肉眼看来应该是绿色的,而不是原始图片中的蓝色。这东西的中央还有一个大洞。

What this object might be was a complete mystery at first. It was initially thought to be a distant galaxy, says Chris Lintott, an Oxford University astronomer involved in the project. But after further study astronomers realised that there were no stars in it, and so it must be a cloud of gas. But why the gas was so hot (about 15,000 `C) was a mystery, because there seemed to be no stars to heat it up.
一开始“物体”到底是什么还是个谜。参加这项计划的牛津大学天文学家 Christ Lintott 说,本来它被认为是一个遥远的星系,但研究了一阵子之后,天文学家发现它里边没有星星,所以它一定是一团气体云。但是这团气体为什么这么热(约 15000 摄氏度)还不清楚,因为似乎没有星星可以加热它。

Now, in a posting on the Galaxy Zoo blog, Dr Keel and Dr Lintott suggest that the galaxy right next door to the voorwerp used to be a quasar (a very bright active galactic nucleus) that has since eaten up all its fuel. This quasar lit up the nearby gas, and although the quasar has since gone out, the light from it is still travelling to the object. The blob, says Dr Lintott, sees the galaxy as it was 40,000 years ago. This makes the voorwerp a sort of light echo but on a massive scale. Smaller light echoes have been seen around supernovae. As for the giant hole, Dr Lintott has “no sensible explanation” for that at the moment and needs to wait for more telescope time.
现在,在星系动物园博客上的一个帖子中,Keel 博士和 Lintott 博士认为在“物体”旁边的星系曾经是个类星体(一种很明亮的活跃星系核),但现在已经把它的燃料给消耗光了。这个类星体以前把旁边的气体点亮了,现在尽管已经熄灭,但它发射出来的光仍然在向“物体”行进。Lintott 博士说,如果我们站在这个斑点中的话,我们看到的星系将是 40000 年前的样子。这就使“物体”成为了类似余辉的东西,不过是在一个相当大的尺度上。在超新星旁边就曾经观察到过小型的余辉。而关于那个大洞,Lintott 博士现在对此“没有什么想法”,需要等待用于观察它的望远镜时段的分配。

The weird blob could become immortalised as Hanny’s Voorwerp, the name given to the object in a paper Dr Lintott and his colleagues are submitting to the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. And towards the end of the year, if the mission to service the Hubble telescope goes as planned, a high-quality image of the voorwerp could emerge.
这个奇怪的斑点可能以后会以“Hanny 的物体”(Hanny’s Voorwerp)之名流芳百世,这个名字是在 Lintott 博士和同事撰写的论文中提出的,这篇论文已经被提交到了英国皇家天文学会月刊。大概在今年年尾,如果哈勃望远镜的观察计划没被打乱的话,我们就能拿到这个“物体”的高质量照片了。

Data direct

Earlier projects in distributed computing, such as SETI@home, which searched for extraterrestrial life, have used the power of millions of home computers. But more recently, scientists have begun to realise that distributed human brain power itself can be a useful commodity, as in working out the shape of proteins. Dr Szalay says that the voorwerp episode has shown how immensely valuable the public can be.
在分布式计算早期出现的项目,比如说搜索地外文明的 SETI@home 利用的是数以百万计家用电脑的计算能力。但最近,科学家们开始意识到分布式人工力量在某些方面也可以很有用,比如说在蛋白质的折叠方面。Szalay 博士说这段关于“物体”的插曲更显示了公众的力量能有多强大。

When the data were put online Dr Szalay thought it was only a matter of time before someone made a big discovery. “It just happened much faster than we thought.” In the past year 40m classifications of galaxies have been submitted on 1m galactic objects in the Galaxy Zoo. Dr Lintott says that the project has proved that the public en masse is as good as professional astronomers at classifying galaxies.
当数据上线的时候,Szalay 博士认为出现新发现只是时间的问题。“只是发生得比我们预期要快。”在去年一年,星系动物园的一百万个星系图像一共收到了四千万次分类鉴定。Lintott 博士说这个项目证明了以数量占优的普罗大众对星系进行分类的能力和专业天文学家一样强。

The next step is to ask people to do more complicated things, such as keeping an eye out for weird objects, which is bound to appeal to armchair astronomers. Hanny’s object had been there for decades, unnoticed in the astronomical archives. The idea now is for the public to explore strange new galaxies; to seek out new voorwerps and to boldly go where no amateur has gone before.
下一步就是让人们做一些更加复杂的事情,比如说留意奇怪的东西,这肯定很受那些扶手椅中的天文爱好者的欢迎。Hanny 的“物体”在天空上已经呆了几个世纪了,但此前在任何天文记录中都没有提到它。现在的想法就是让公众来探索奇怪的未知星系,寻找新的“物体”,到达以前的爱好者从未到过的地方。



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