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极光的科学与美丽 – 译学馆
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极光的科学与美丽

The Science and Beauty of Auroras

有个故事:想象我们的星球周围有一种无形的力量 现在想象它
Here’s a story: Imagine there’s an invisible force around our planet. Now imagine that
上亿年间 它的力场守护我们不被一种如我们所知
for billions of years, that force field has been protecting us from a beam of supercharged
超动力的可灭绝地球上所有生命的等离子束伤害你可能觉得这
plasma that would others wipe out life on Earth as we know it. You might think this
有点像科幻小说 但这是真的 而且它给了我们这个:
is some kind of science fiction story, but it’s all true. And it’s what gives us this:
极光!
The aurora!
极光是人类最老的神秘事物之一 而我们由古至今在解释它的问题上
The auroras are one of mankind’s oldest mysteries, and we’ve come up with some pretty crazy theories
想到了一些很疯狂的理论以亚里士多德为例 他认为那些极光是天空呕吐
of how to explain it along the way. Take Aristotle, he thought they aurora was the sky vomiting
出的些许火焰但直到17世纪我们才认识到两个
little bits of flame! But it wasn’t until the 1600’s that we figured out two key things
帮助我们解释极光的关键一 事实证明地球真的是一个巨大的磁体
that helped us explain the aurora. One, it turns out the Earth is really just a big magnet,
二 事实证明太阳提供的东西不仅仅是光
and second, it turns out the sun gives of a lot more than just light.
在光线照进地球以前很久 它在太阳边缘诞生
Long before any sunlight hits Earth, it’s born at the edge of the Sun. And the edge
在太阳边缘 日冕 是个繁忙而美丽的地方充满了等离子体的漩涡
of the Sun, the corona, is a busy, beautiful place, full of churning whirlpools of plasma
和巨大的磁性弧所有那些动作持续散播着能量粒子波
and huge magnetic arcs. All of that action is constantly releasing waves of energized
形成了我们称为“太阳风”的物质 在离开太阳几天后
particles, creating what we call the ‘solar wind’. A few days after leaving the Sun,
以每秒400公里的极速前进 带电粒子的冲击波
travelling at a whopping 400 kilometers per second, that blast of charged particles reaches
到达了地球 幸运的是 我们周围有个秘密武器:地球的漩涡
Earth. Fortunately, we’ve got a secret weapon on our side: Earth’s swirling, molten iron
融化的铁磁心
core.
磁心是在地球上生存的关键 它在我们的周围构建了一个磁力场
Our core is the key to life on Earth. It creates a magnetic force field
抵挡并反射了那种太阳风 让这里的生活更快乐
around us that deflects that solar wind up and away, making life down here much
现在因为那个磁场我们有了像大气层这样的好东西 而且我们更不容易被烤脆
more enjoyable. Now because that magnetic field we have nice things like an atmosphere and we’re much less burnt-to-a-crisp
感谢一波又一波的地球灭菌辐射 但尽管有那些…
thanks to wave after wave of planet-sterilizing radiation. But despite all that . . . There
仍有很少的那种太阳风跳到磁力场上
IS a tiiiiiny bit of that solar wind that hops on the magnetic force-field and rides
驾驶它向上或向下到达地球极点 那就是为什么我们得到了极光
it up or down to the Earth’s poles, and that’s where we get the auroras.
当这些带电微粒粉碎于远在大气层的空气时
When those energized particles smash into gases wayyyyy up high in our atmosphere, they
它们“激发”了大气 这意味着气体分子攫取了一点能量
“excite” them, which means the gas atoms grab on to a bit of energy. But they don’t
但它们不会长时间被激发 他们通过微弱明亮的爆炸光散发出那些储存的能量
stay excited for long. They give off that stored energy in a bright little burst of
我们大气中的不同元素释放出不同的颜色
light. Different atoms in our atmosphere each give off different colors.
激发态氧气给了我们熟悉的绿色和红色 而那是我们通常听到“极光”时想到的
Excited oxygen is what gives off that familiar green and red that most of us think of when
但那里也有氮 而其可释放出
we hear ‘aurora’. But there’s also nitrogen up there, and it can give off a really cool
很酷的红蓝光 让天空洋溢着粉紫色
mix of red and blue light that makes the sky glow this incredible purplish-pink. Now, we
我们只能在晚上看见它 但它一天24小时都在发生 每一天每一年!
can only see this at night, but it’s happening 24 hours a day, every day of every year! It’s
它也发生在土星和木星上
also happening on Saturn and Jupiter.
但有时太阳风登峰造极时那被视为一个非常危险的场面
But sometimes the Sun turns that wind up to eleven, and that’s a very dangerous sight
极端太阳风暴称为日冕物质抛射能毫无预警地向宇宙爆发
to behold. Extreme solar storms called coronal mass ejections can erupt into space almost
释放巨大的带电粒子波 如果它们正巧
without warning, unleashing huge waves of charged particles. If they happen to be pointed
指向地球 那么……向外看
at Earth, then . . . look out.
这些风暴难以置信地强大在地磁场外绕行的宇航员
These storms are incredibly powerful. Astronauts orbiting outside Earth’s magnetic field
曾经报道说如果你在一场太阳风暴中闭上眼睛
have reported that if you close your eyes during a solar storm, the charged particles
带电粒子可以通过与你眼内的液体反应制造闪光在1859年 一场携带了巨量能量的风暴
can cause flashes of light by reacting with the fluid inside your eye. In 1859, a storm
击中了地球 给一通从波士顿到波特兰 缅因洲的电报供了能
with so much energy hit Earth that it powered a telegram from Boston to Portland, Maine
……当设备未插电时
. . . while the equipment was unplugged.
但是 当这些罕见的强风暴击中磁场
But, when those rare violent storms hit the magnetic field and make their way up to the
而转向极点大气时 我们欣赏了一场与众不同的极光秀
polar atmosphere, we are treated to an aurora show like no other. Not only are these images
不仅是这些艺术图片 它们给了科学家一条研究太阳风暴怎样影响地球生活的途径
works of art, they give scientists a way to study how solar storms can affect life on
就像我们的电子学和通信学一些最棒的地球极光照片
Earth, like our electronics and communications. Some of the best views of Earth’s auroras
当通过接近我们地球的南北极时被国际空间站捕获
have been captured from the International Space Station, which passes near the north
约90分钟一次所以如果他们在夜晚通过极点会怎样?
and south poles of our planet about once every 90 minutes. So if they pass by the poles while
近在咫尺的极光!尽管我不建议
it’s dark? The auroras are close enough to touch! Although I wouldn’t recommend
那样做
that.
NASA确保在国际空间站工作的宇航员都是训练得素的摄影师
NASA makes sure that the astronauts that work on the ISS are highly trained photographers.
而地面的艺术家则取得他们的照片并与创造物再混合
And artists down here on Earth are taking their photos and remixing them into creations
使其足以直击灵魂
that are enough blow your mind.
这些天空光芒秀可能已经照射了上亿年
This celestial light show has been burning bright for perhaps billions of years, and
而这不仅仅是地球私人的艺术展它被在我们居住的星球周围的这种
it’s more than just Earth’s private art show. It’s painted by this incredible invisible
难以置信的看不见的力量涂绘一种捕捉来自太阳的风并将其转化为光线的力量
force surrounding our living planet, a force that catches wind from the Sun, and turns
它一直向我们提示着夜晚天空的美丽
it into light. It provides us with a constant reminder of the beauty of the night sky, and
而它就在我们行星的后院 那真是伟大
it’s right in our planetary backyard. And that’s pretty awesome.

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视频来源

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZVTbolyobcE

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